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Changing people's behaviour
  1. Department of Psychology
  2. University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  3. 1000 Hilltop Circle
  4. Baltimore, MD 21250 USA

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    Health behavior change: a guide for practitioners. Stephen Rollnick, Pip Mason, Christopher Butler. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone (Harcourt Brace), 1999. ISBN 0443 058504. 225 pages.

    “You cannot get people to change in five minutes.” “Doctors do not feel that they have the expertise or training to help people change behaviours.” “Getting diabetics (smokers, drinkers, heart patients . . .) to change their diets (smoking, drinking, exercise . . .) is difficult if not practically impossible.” These statements represent typical comments from third year medical students in a class on behaviour modification that I teach at the medical school. I have often encountered these negative views of health behaviour change among health practitioners. In response I contend as cogently as I can that medical professionals can be taught about the process of change and trained to help individual patients make positive movement toward change in a brief period of time. I now have help. This practitioner guide by Rollnick, Mason, and Butler does a wonderful job of making these points in an elegant, convincing, and motivationally enhancing manner. This small, easy to read volume is filled with practical insights and strategies that would be useful and valuable for both the busy health practitioner and the behaviour change specialist. Although it may take a little more than five minutes to do what they suggest, the authors discuss and more importantly demonstrate how quickly and efficiently to approach and engage a patient in a conversation about changing one or more health threatening behaviours. This is a book that can and should …

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