The effectiveness of health coaching for frequent attenders of the primary healthcare

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

University of Oulu, Auditorium 101A (Aapistie 5A)

Topic of the dissertation

The effectiveness of health coaching for frequent attenders of the primary healthcare

Doctoral candidate

Master of health sciences Kirsi Kivelä

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, The Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management

Subject of study

Nursing science


Adjunct professor Anja Rantanen, University of Tampere


Professor Maria Kääriäinen, University of Oulu

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Frequent attenders of the primary healthcare benefit from an individual health coaching

The individual, patient-centered health coaching provided by a nurse has a positive impact on the quality of life and health for frequent attenders of the primary healthcare.

MNSc Kirsi Kivelä found that health coaching improves frequent attenders' emotional role limitation and energy in everyday life, increases physical activity and decreases their blood pressure. Positive effects were also observed in physical role limitation, emotional well-being, bodily pain and general health. On the other hand smoking, alcohol use and weight management had no effect.

The results are interesting because the effects of health coaching on the well-being for frequent attenders of the primary healthcare have not been studied in earlier research.

Health coaching is a health promotion method that motivates the patients to change their behavior and help them achieve their health goals. In health coaching, a coach´s role is to coach the patient to consider their own options, find new ways of working and take responsibility for their well-being. The cornerstones of successful coaching are the development of a confidential care relationship between the patient and the nurse, adequate communication, and a care plan based on the patient's needs.

In Kivelä's doctoral dissertation, the health coaches were the trained nurses in primary health care. Coaching was given to patients according to their individual needs. The control group received standard care in primary care. The patients were followed for a year.

The results showed that frequent attenders of the primary healthcare were older and they had many chronic diseases and lower quality of life. According to Kivelä, it was surprising that the patients had good adherence to health regimens and physical activity. However, progress was also noted in these areas during the follow-up year.

“Frequent attenders need support at the earliest possible stage in their lives, and special more attention should be paid to discussing illness-related fears,” says Kivelä.

It is estimated that about 10% of patients account frequent attenders of health care. Studies show that they account for a large part of the cost of health services. As current care and education practices have not proven very effective for this patient group, new approaches are needed.

“Individual health coaching proved to be beneficial in many ways, and its effects on the use of services should be further explored,” Kivelä concludes.

The results of the doctoral dissertation can be used to educate and develop the care of frequent attenders, as well as in health education and research.
Last updated: 1.3.2023