Health coaching to improve healthy lifestyle behaviors: an integrative review

Am J Health Promot. 2010 Sep-Oct;25(1):e1-e12. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.090313-LIT-101.


Objective: Chronic diseases account for 70% of U.S. deaths. Health coaching may help patients adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors that prevent and control diseases. This integrative review analyzed health coaching studies for evidence of effectiveness and to identify key program features.

Data source: Multiple electronic databases were utilized, yielding a final sample of 15 documents.

Study inclusion and exclusion criteria: The search was limited to peer-reviewed research articles published between 1999 and 2008. Studies were further analyzed if they (1) specifically cited coaching as a program intervention, and (2) applied the intervention to research.

Data extraction: Articles describing various quantitative and qualitative methodologies were critically analyzed using a systematic method.

Data synthesis: Data were synthesized using a matrix format according to purpose, method, intervention, findings, critique, and quality rating.

Results: All 15 studies utilized nonprobability sampling, 7 (47%) with randomized intervention and control groups. Significant improvements in one or more of the behaviors of nutrition, physical activity, weight management, or medication adherence were identified in six (40%) of the studies. Common features of effective programs were goal setting (73%), motivational interviewing (27%), and collaboration with health care providers (20%).

Conclusions: Health coaching studies with well-specified methodologies and more rigorous designs are needed to strengthen findings; however, this behavioral change intervention suggests promise.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Databases, Factual
  • Directive Counseling*
  • Exercise
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Life Style*
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity
  • Patient Care Team
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Marketing
  • Treatment Outcome