Motivation beats information

Better than a brochure for your teeth.
Better than a brochure for your teeth.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found taking a different approach to regular health campaigns has had a significant effect on the oral health of diabetics. They have concluded that while brochures with information about dental health or healthy living are fine, motivational health coaching by professionals is far better and reaches out to high-risk groups.

In the study, patients with diabetes were divided into two groups. One group was given traditional health information, for example a brochure on good dental hygiene. The other group was offered motivational health coaching in the form of 3-6 sessions over a six-month period, focusing on personal guidance on, for example, diet, stress management and dental care.

“In the group of patients who were given personal health coaching, biological markers for periodontitis were reduced by as much as 50 per cent over a six-month period. The patients in the trial group saw a significant decline in long-range blood sugar levels, whereas figures for the control group were unchanged. Moreover, the patients in the coaching group expressed markedly increased self-efficacy in relation to handling illness and health issues,” explains Assistant Professor and authorised coach Ayse Basak Cinar from the Department of Odontology at the University of Copenhagen in a press release.

Head of section Lone Schou from the Department of Odontology adds, “Health coaching is a resource-intensive intervention. However, dishing out a brochure to patients with diabetes and thinking that that will do it, is also a costly approach for society. Ineffective health communication due to a lack of creativity results in massive and costly problems for society. The patients we are in contact with are often both socially and financially vulnerable, and for them health coaching and follow-up can make a considerable and marked difference, both to their physical and mental health. It is also about equality in the health care system – both globally and nationally,”.

“It is also exciting that we are combining biological examinations of BMI, long-range blood sugar and bacterial markers with qualitative data obtained through interviews. All the biological examinations indicate better results for the trial group,” says Ayse Basak Cinar.

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