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Assessing readiness for change

Ask your patient about how important change is at the moment, and how confident they feel about making changes. Matching your patient with their stage of change can help you provide information and support that best meets your patient’s wants and needs. Click here for more guidance on how to do this effectively.

Meet the patient where they are at

Find out how best to support your patient at each stage of their weight management journey. Change does not occur in one step, rather there are several stages involved. Losing weight usually requires a lot of different changes. However a person could be at a different stage of change in relation to different health behaviours.

Cycle of change

Using the Cycle of Change

  1. Click on one of the six elements in the circle
  2. Information about how best to support your patient at each stage of their weight management journey will appear to the right hand side of the diagram
Cycle of change

Support self motivation: Self motivation is "doing something because of one's own enthusiasm or interest, without needing pressure from others". Change is most likely to occur when a person has their own reasons for wanting to change. You can help people develop self-motivation by talking to them about what is important at the moment and helping them think about whether their current health behaviours are taking them closer or further away from this.

Let your patient make the case for change: Asking questions to help the patient provide their own reasons for change will give them the opportunity to rehearse these rather than argue against them. This helps make reasons for change more compelling.

Listen carefully: Checking that you understand what your patient is telling you, by using open questions and summaries, can improve your relationship with your patient. It can also help you to spot clues about what is important to them, or doubts about current unhelpful health behaviours, and positive intentions or ideas that could otherwise go unnoticed.

Remember that this is normal: Reassure your patient that this is a normal and potentially useful part of the process as it can provide feedback about how they need to do things differently next time.

Look wider than the scales: Help your patient to recognise the positive health, personal and social benefits of the changes they have made, even if their weight is not changing or has gone up.

Provide encouragement and support: Show interest in your patient's achievements and celebrate their successes, however small.

Set SMART goals: These are goals that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time limited. Find out more about SMART goals here. Setting regular goals can help your patient continue to progress and stay on track.

Look at the bigger picture: Understanding how the patient's current weight fits their life, experiences and social situation will help you to plan for success and overcome potential barriers. Asking your patient to describe a typical day can be a quick and easy way to understand the current role of eating and activity within your client's life.

Know what's out there: Capture desire and enthusiasm for change by being able to provide the right information at the right time. Ensure that you have a good understanding of the obesity pathway and find out what local services and resources are available to best support your clients depending on their weight, abilities, past experiences, interests and needs.

Work together: You may be the expert in general principals of weight management and changing health behaviours. However, remembering that your patient is the expert of him/herself can help you come up with more realistic, individualised and collaborative solutions.

This page was last updated on: Monday 30th November 2015