Education Does Not Change Behaviors

We have all observed this.

Think of the patients that you have taught new skills to and they have returned using the same dirty this or that, or continued eating in the same unhealthy ways.

And what about the EBP guidelines that have not been hard wired into nurses’   practice patterns in your department?

What’s up with this? You did education around the clock.

Well, the science is in. Education alone does not create sustainable change.

Information is a critical success factor in facilitating change in behaviors, but it takes more, a lot more.

Here are the other required factors that influence sustainable change:

  1. Does the person want to change?                  ✔ Education addresses this.
  2. Does s/he know how?                                      ✔ Training addresses this.
  3. What peer pressures exist to help or hurt the change effort?          Ø ?
  4. Is there an ongoing support system?                                                     Ø ?
  5. What’s the incentive and the reward specific for that person?       Ø ?
  6. Are the things available that are needed to make it easy?                Ø ?

Vital Smarts, www.vitalsmarts.com/influencer

So the truth is, just because there is a good reason for a change and the training has been provided, does not mean the change will happen.

And it’s not about willpower, not caring enough, not being fully committed, or being weak or lazy.

It comes down to habits.  And behaving outside of routine habits takes energy, the right motivation, the right support and resources.

Regarding patients and needed behavior changes related to chronic diseases, clearly these coaching change skills are required within the continuum of care. And inevitably, all nurses will have an expanded role, beyond educating, in coaching patients’ change processes.

And regarding the processes involving nurses making changes, maybe it would be best if all nurses were coaches?

Would that lead to higher engagement and satisfaction?

2 thoughts on “Education Does Not Change Behaviors

  1. Ranae Aukerman says:

    This concept is vital to the changes that need to occur, not just for our patients but the HC workforce to attain healthy habits of self-care. Coaching skills are incredibly beneficial!

    1. pmcclendon says:

      Yes. It’s true. Thank you chiming in. It’s great to hear from others.

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