Getting patients to consistently follow treatment plans, especially when self-management and prevention are major components, is no easy feat. But can we really blame them? We’re expecting patients with chronic disease to develop new skills, knowledge and habits almost overnight.
The more psychologists probe the depths of human behavior, the more we realize how complex the human psyche is. For instance, people act on principles they value and believe, and their choices are also highly motivated by emotions, circumstances, and current mental state. Plus, physiological changes can alter all of the previously mentioned factors.
When it comes to behavior change, patients face countless influences - both from within and from without. These external and internal factors create a wide spectrum of challenges in developing better habits.
Human beings are complex. Not only do we have a physical and emotional side, but all facets of our being are intertwined with each other. The emotional state affects the mental, and the mental influences the physical, and so on and so forth. Psychologists have grappled with these human complexities for centuries, proposing many theories along the way.
Health care has traditionally been focused on treating the disease. Even today, chronic disease patients have access to treatments and interventions that can lengthen their lives.
In recent years diabetes has skyrocketed. About 9.4% of the American population currently has diabetes. While that percentage is staggering, the numbers will only rise further. Another 84.1 million people have pre-diabetes, meaning diabetes is set to explode nationwide.
In the battle against chronic conditions, healthcare must introduce measures for behavior change. This is an uphill battle though. Patients struggle to stay engaged in their own health, in part because in the past they were not allowed an active role. Clinicians were the experts and patients let them make most of their health decisions.