These “Magic” Questions Promote Behavioral Change

The following is the behavior change protocol presented by Funnell and Anderson. These questions are intended to be asked of patients by health care professionals, but they can be used individually and can be helpful to keep in mind when trying to make significant lifestyle changes.

  • What part of living with diabetes do you find most difficult or unsatisfying?

    Answers to this question can often highlight the different priorities professionals and patients have about the most important issues related to diabetes care.

  • How does that (the situation described above) make you feel?

    Discussing feelings regarding treatments can often energize patients and make self-directed change more likely.

  • How would this situation have to change for you to feel better about it? or How would you feel if things don’t change?

    This helps patients focus on the elements of a situation that must change for them to feel better.

  • Are you willing to take action to improve the situation for yourself? or How important is it to you for this situation to change?

    This helps develop clarity as to whether patients are willing commit to change. For it to be effective, however, patients must not feel pressured to change, as changes made in response to such pressure rarely last.

  • What are some steps that you could take to bring you closer to where you want to be?

    This helps patients develop a specific plan of action. Funnell and Anderson also recommend discussing potential barriers to these steps and potential resources that patients could use to help themselves.

  • Is there one thing you will do when you leave here to improve things for yourself?

    This provides closure by focusing on the first thing the patient can do to improve the situation. Funnell and Anderson also recommend possibly writing the commitment down in an effort to make it more binding.

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