Where do we draw the line between improving people’s health behavior in the direction that we want, versus leaving them happy with what they have? Kevin Volpp, Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, David Kirchhoff, CEO of Snap Kitchen and former CEO of Weight Watchers, and Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California, discuss how much providers should let patients drive what happens (patient-centered care), and when it might make sense to be more paternalistic.
If a patient makes a well-reasoned, well-informed decision not to change an unhealthy behavior, maybe we shouldn’t push that person, suggests Volpp. On the other hand, for patients who are dangerously at risk, Kirchhoff argues that clinicians can’t shy away from a serious discussion. “You cannot say it’s OK, to just blow it off,” says Kirchhoff. “I don’t know how as a doctor you’re doing your job if you step away from that responsibility.” Wood points to the amount of data on lifestyle behaviors and what diseases are linked to them. We need tax and social policies that are more closely aligned to these data, she says, and the conversation with health care providers should reflect that.
From the NEJM Catalyst event Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health at the University of Pennsylvania, February 25, 2016.