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S31: The Rapidly Emerging Field of Health Coaching: What is It Really? And What Does the Data Show?

10:30 - 12:00, Orchid CD, Terrace Level

Ruth Wolever (1), Karen Lawson (2), Meg Jordan (3), Diana Dill (4)

(1): Duke Integrative Medicine, United States                                      

(2): University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing, United States

(3): California Institute of Integral Studies, United States

(4): Working Together for Health, United States


Given the worldwide epidemic of preventable chronic disease, evolving wellness and disease management models frequently include health and wellness coaching to support sustainable health behavior change.  Unfortunately, the use of the terms health and wellness coaching have proliferated without a clear and consistent definition, leading to equivocal conclusions in a burgeoning peer-reviewed evidence base that claims to evaluate “health coaching,” but uses widely varying definitions that further confuse the literature.   In this symposium, Ruth Wolever, PhD will present a PRISMA-guided systematic review that defines health and wellness coaching, underlining the importance of an ongoing coaching relationship. Additionally she will give an overview of the medical literature based upon this emergent definition. Three presenters will then discuss specific health and wellness coaching models used in three different training programs, as well as present published case studies and quantitative results obtained in applications of these conceptual models.  Karen Lawson, MD will present the University of Minnesota’s Integrative Health Coaching model, along with longitudinal findings from the model’s application in high-risk health plan enrollees. Wolever will present the Duke Integrative Health Coaching model, along with findings from the model’s application when used with patients with type 2 diabetes. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN will present the integrative coaching model from the California Institute of Integral Studies, along with results from applications of the model in the community.  Diana Dill, Ed.D will then close the symposia with a review of published findings in medicine which demonstrate the importance of the human connection between patient and provider which is at the heart of integrative medicine.  Highly relevant to coaching relationships, these findings suggest that healing connections have three dimensions: emotional connection, partnership, and guided discovery.


Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD is a clinical health psychologist and the Director of Research at Duke Integrative Medicine.  As a clinical psychologist with an expertise in mind-body medicine and behavior change, Ruth studies the integration of innovative Mind-Body-Spirit treatments into mainstream medicine. She has been funded by NIH, GSK and several philanthropic organizations to study holistic, lifestyle approaches to chronic disease. Her career also includes an ongoing focus on the development of the role of health coach in creating significant lifestyle change. Ruth is an elected co-leader of the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC), and the co-chair of the NCCHWC Research Task Force.  The NCCHWC is a non-profit organization with professionals from multiple disciplines and institutions who are collaborating to establish national standardization in credentialing and minimal training standards for health and wellness coaches.