Information Not Enough to Change Behavior

A study conducted by Scripps researchers and published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that direct-to-consumer genetic testing did not result in any measurable short-term changes in psychological health, diet or exercise behavior, or use of screening tests.”

Unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me. When I worked on smoking cessation, it wasn’t enough to just tell people to quit smoking because it’s bad for their health. Just facts are often not enough to get people to act, because everyone knows that smoking is bad for them, just as we all know that getting exercise and eating fruits/vegetables is good for us.

The same with adherence — getting patients to take their medication as directed by their physicians. A prominent doctor told me that if he had to take just one medication twice a day (once in the morning and once at night), he couldn’t do it. Why? Because he explained that without the necessary support/information to effect a life-style change, it would be unlikely that he would be adherent. So, he asked, why do we expect more from our patients?

Getting a message that truly resonates with each patient and then providing them with the tools to make the necessary change in their life — at a minimum that’s what’s required. Mere information just won’t do it!

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