Behavior Change Programs Focused on Exercise and Stress Management Also Dramatically Improve Overall Well-Being

First-Ever Randomized Trial Evaluated the Impact of Health Coaching Interventions on Individual Well-Being

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Computer-tailored intervention (CTI) programs applying the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of behavior change to exercise and stress management programs simultaneously reduced participants’ health risks while improving multiple areas of well-being. Areas of well-being that were particularly impacted included: physical health, emotional health, life evaluation and healthy behaviors, according to a new study presented today at the Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium in Philadelphia.

Participants in a telephonic coaching program group, with exercise as the primary target behavior and stress management as a secondary target, improved healthy behaviors pertaining to exercise (57.3%) and stress management (74.9%). Those in a web-based program group, with stress management as the primary target behavior and exercise as a secondary target, also reported healthy behavior change pertaining to exercise (46.6%) and stress management (64.7%). Both of these groups were significantly more likely to achieve treatment success than the control group, which did not receive telephonic or online interventions for exercise or stress management.

“We know that well-being measures how we feel and experience our daily lives in addition to being predictive of future healthcare cost,” said Dr. James Pope, vice president and chief science officer, Healthways, Inc. “This study adds to that knowledge by showing that cost-effective programs, conducted via telephone or online, adequately provide the support required to help populations improve health and well-being, resulting in lower healthcare costs across the board.”

Although a variety of behaviors relate to well-being, such as physical health, happiness and quality of life, healthcare costs, exercise and effective stress management were chosen as the two health behaviors having the greatest potential for changing multiple domains of well-being. Exercise has been found to produce over 60 different benefits, including reduction of depression, decreased pain, increased self-esteem, greater energy and increased productivity. In addition, effective stress management has been found to decrease stress and depression, improve sleep, decrease pain and increase productivity.

Exercise and stress management interventions were chosen since these behaviors were anticipated to have effects on multiple aspects of well-being and would be important components of a well-being improvement system, if proven effective. Results from the trial demonstrated that multiple areas of well-being did show improvement. Those areas of well-being not showing significant change, such as an individual’s access to healthcare or work environment, were not expected to show changes.

About the Study

The study was conducted on 3,391 individuals by Pro-Change Behavior Systems and the Center for Health Research, Healthways, Inc. Both treatment groups included CTIs with tailoring based on an individual’s state of change for a given behavior. The secondary behaviors in each intervention received stage matched tailoring, which only tailors on stage of change by giving guidance on the one or two steps that could lead to the next stage. This type of protocol can simultaneously treat multiple behaviors while reducing the treatment demands on participants and providers.

The exercise coaching group received up to three proactive telephone sessions at 0, 3 and 6 months via outreach by a trained health coach. Coaches used the CTIs to guide all sessions with optimal TTM tailoring for exercise and stage-tailoring for stress management, the secondary target. The CTI led the coaches through a series of assessment questions and tailored feedback, based on stage of change and TTM variables, to guide their participants to the next stage of change. Each telephone session lasted about 20 minutes. The stress management online group received a self-directed Web-based intervention with full TTM tailoring for stress management and stage-based tailoring for exercise.

These two treatments were used, in part, because telephonic coaching and online CTIs represent the two most commonly applied modalities of scalable wellness interventions. This study was not designed, however, to compare whether telephonic coaching produces greater impact than online CTIs or whether exercise, as the primary behavior, is more effective than stress management.

About Participants

Participants were recruited via the Internet through a survey sampling company that has a national pool of about 1,500,000 potential participants. To be eligible, participants had to report risk in the areas of both exercise (not engaging in moderate or vigorous exercise to guidelines) and stress (reporting stress that was not being managed effectively) during the screening process.

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and well-being and, as a result, reduce overall costs. Healthways’ solutions are designed to help healthy individuals stay healthy, mitigate or eliminate lifestyle risk factors that can lead to disease and optimize care for those with chronic illness. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network and a national Fitness Center Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system. For more information, please visit


Kelly Motley, 615-614-4984
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