Behavioral and psychological interventions for digestive health conditions are highly effective in reducing symptoms and enhancing patient well-being and adjustment to living with chronic digestive conditions. However, most patients face significant barriers to accessing care from a trained GI health psychologist despite high levels of interest.
In recent years, health coaching has been integrated into standard models of behavioral health care, and the benefits of health coaching have been demonstrated with patients with a variety of chronic diseases. In a study conducted by a multidisciplinary team, Sarah Quinton, PsyD, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Service within the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and clinical health psychologist Kathryn Tomasino, PhD, will evaluate the usefulness of integrating health coaching into standard behavioral interventions for digestive conditions provided by GI health psychologists.
The team will recruit participants to the study from patients referred for behavioral medicine services at Northwestern Medicine and will randomize participants into two groups. Half will receive the standard psychological therapy sessions (care as usual) and the other half will receive a reduced number of sessions with a GI psychologist plus support from a trained health coach. The coach connect with patients in between sessions via bi-weekly phone calls or MyChart messages to reinforce behavior change, enhance motivation and skills practice, and problem solve challenges—all with the goal of supporting patients along their journey to better health. The team hopes to determine the benefits and feasibility of this integrated model compared to standard care.