Since we often see customers as they are coming out of their doctor's appointment, I can't help but notice the materials they plunk down on the counter while fishing around for their insurance/credit card/prescription. Often it's a fistful of those pamphlets that the doctor's offices hand out --- "Understanding Hypertension", "Lower Back Pain", "Meet Your Sinuses" (0r something like that). Unfortunately I think these pamphlets are a poor substitute for actual patient education, but I realize the limitations placed on some young nurse practitioner to try and change someone's entire lifestyle in a 10-minute visit for a Vicodin renewal. I waited on a rather disheveled, cigarette-smoky-smelling man who, as he left with his pain meds, remarked sarcastically "Now all I have to do is quit smoking, lose 30 pounds and quit shovelling snow." I started to laugh at his little joke then I realized the look on his face was one of pissed-offedness. I guess having those suggestions thrown at you along with a bunch of pamphlets doesn't go over too well sometimes, but again I realize the daunting task some of the practitioners face -- to motivate someone to really take charge of their health is a special talent they probably don't teach enough in medical school.
I know that 'wellness' programs are the new thing now -- run by insurance companies who will give you a credit for participation. Of course, you have to have insurance first. But let's face it, even those of us in the health professions can resist the idea of being lectured to, even if we don't smoke or over eat. We shy away from the chirpy 'coach' who tells us to exercise more. These people make us feel guilty, and running away from guilt is the most basic human emotion.
The motivation always has to come from within. Will power is such a tough thing to maintain. Anyone who can figure out how to harness these things in patients like my crabby customer will deserve a Nobel Prize. Then, we can get rid of the pamphlets!