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GENA735 Supporting Healthier Lifestyles: Challenging Conversations

Explores the interactional strategies used by patients and health professionals to manage conversations about lifestyle behaviours/lifestyle behaviour change in the primary health care setting.

Brief interventions, such as motivational interviewing and opportunistic discussions or advice in primary health care settings, have been shown to be beneficial in influencing lifestyle choices, such as reducing alcohol consumption and smoking. Discussions about sensitive lifestyle topics are inherently challenging, in common with other topics that include an element of social or moral judgement, but there is little practical guidance available to primary care health professionals on when and how to engage patients in lifestyle discussions most effectively. A growing body of international research demonstrates that direct observation of naturally occurring interaction in clinical consultations provides practitioners with valuable information and insights.

This paper will review current research on patient-health-professional interactions and will introduce students to a set of tools to examine and critically reflect on discussions of lifestyle/lifestyle behaviour change in real-life health encounters.

Paper title Supporting Healthier Lifestyles: Challenging Conversations
Paper code GENA735
Subject General Practice
EFTS 0.1250
Points 15 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2019
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,400.75
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,934.75

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Limited to
PGCertGP, PGCertPHC, PGDipGP, PGDipHealSc, PGDipPHC, MHealSc
Includes a residential period.
Suitable for health professionals from a range of disciplines.
Teaching staff
Convenor: Dr Maria Stubbe
Paper Structure
Elective paper for the Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Health Care (PGCertPHC).
Elective paper for the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care (PGDipPHC).

Material is presented in self-directed learning modules covering the following topics:
  • A basic understanding of the theory underpinning research into health communication
  • A critical appraisal of current research on the conversational features of lifestyle behaviour discussions in patient-professional interactions
  • Techniques used to identify and evaluate discourse strategies that act as barriers and facilitators to effective discussion of lifestyle/lifestyle behaviour change
  • Using the skills and having the confidence to experiment with different conversational approaches to supporting behaviour change
  • Applying a practical framework for critical peer and self-reflection on communication about lifestyle/lifestyle behaviour changes
Teaching Arrangements
One compulsory residential conference in Wellington. Other teaching done via Blackboard and online videoconferencing.

All resources available either via Blackboard or other online resources.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Please also refer to the Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice Graduate Profile.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will
  1. Be able to articulate key observations about patient-health-professional interaction based on international and New Zealand research
  2. Be familiar with a set of tools to examine and critically reflect on the challenges of real-life discussions of lifestyle/lifestyle behaviour change

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Not offered in 2019

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system