The results of a clinical trial show that the use of motivational interviewing can reduce COPD hospital readmissions.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota enrolled 215 patients who either received health coaching or typical treatment for one year. The health coaching involved one hospital session and one session after hospital discharge, and then weekly phone sessions for three months. Then the phone sessions were monthly until a year went by.

“We tested an intervention that primarily aimed to promote patient activation and mindful communication, two critical and perhaps underrated aspects of care that we firmly believe are at the heart of practicing the art of medicine,” lead author Roberto Benzo, MD, MS, explained in the press release. “This coaching style emphasizes autonomy and choice in what the patient wanted to work on. It is a process that happens with a patient; it is not something the coach does to a patient.”

The COPD-related hospital readmissions were significantly reduced among patients who participated in health coaching: during the first month, readmissions rates were reduced by 7.5 percent, followed by 11 percent at three and six months post discharged – the time when reduction rates peaked. The researchers acknowledged they were unable to record data for the precise reason for the drop-off after six months, but Benzo said there might be some advantage to additional sessions of health coaching in order to stoke a patient’s motivation and reinforce the importance of self-management.

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