Do you have a client who struggles to meet weekly physical activity goals or to lose weight? A simple telephone call may be just the thing to jumpstart his success. Several studies point to the benefits of telephone interventions in such cases.
One study, published in the November 2007 issue of Health Psychology (26 , 718–27), discovered that telephone calls—whether human or computerized—motivated trial participants to increase their weekly exercise time. The 218 subjects—men and women aged 55 and older—were separated into three groups: human advice, automated advice and no advice. The two advice groups received regular phone calls asking them how much exercise they had performed in the past week. Calls were made weekly at first and then monthly. Both advice groups showed marked improvements in the amount of exercise performed throughout the yearlong study. The no-advice group made little improvement.
A more recent study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (July/August 2010; 24, 378–83), used telephone calls to incite weight loss. The “Drop It At Last” study was a 6-month trial created to determine the effectiveness of a 10- or 20-session telephone-based weight loss counseling program. The subjects were 63 obese men and women aged 18 or older. They were randomized into a 10-session counseling group; a 20-session counseling group; and a noncounseling group. All participants received an instruction manual, a pedometer and log booklets. Those in the counseling groups received regular 10- to 20-minute phone calls that included guidance from a qualified professional on implementing behavioral weight loss strategies. By the end of the study, the 20-session group had achieved an average weight loss of 4.9 kilograms (kg), or 10.8 pounds. The no counseling and 10-session groups lost 2.3 and 3.2 kg, or 5 and 7 pounds, respectively. “Phone-based weight loss programs show promise, but further research to explore the optimal intervention timing and dose as well as creative strategies to enhance social support through such interventions is warranted,” stated the study authors.
Do you offer phone-based weight loss counseling? Do you find such programs successful? We want to hear about it.