Behaviour (“lifestyle”) contribute crucially to an individual’s health. An unhealthy lifestyle contributes substantially to the individual and population-wide burden of disease. The most important variables are smoking, exercise, diet/nutrition/weight, coping with stress, and alcohol. In spite of time constraints, the medical consultation provides multiple opportunities for influencing such behaviour by means of brief interventions.

Modern treatment concepts, such as the “Health Coaching KHM” programme devised by the Swiss College of Primary Care Medicine (GC KHM, the Kollegium für Hausarztmedizin), take into account that motivations may differ, ranging from a total lack of interest to the willingness to tackle a change. If the coach is too prescriptive, this is often not in line with the client’s readiness, and the initiative will be unsuccessful. In our opinion, successful coaching in terms of health behaviours is a team effort of coach and client—who are equal partners in this. The client adopts an active part and makes the project “his/her” own project.  In this way, clients will accept more individual responsibility for their own personal success.

Our programme was developed by general practitioners for general practitioners, under the aegis of the Swiss College of Primary Care Medicine, and therefore claims to be fit for practice. Fit for practice also means that it uses minimal amounts of paper and a visual instrument (a tricoloured circle) that is easy to understand, independently of a client’s educational level. The coaching session can be billed via the Tarmed time tariff, just like any other consultation.

Those among you who are natural talents will find instruments and ideas on this website that will help you to get started with motivational coaching. Others can acquire the necessary skills by attending training courses at the different levels. Including your medical practice assistant will help you work as a team to improve your patients’ health successfully.