Have you spent time educating and informing patients about a condition or treatment plan, only to have the patient resist your recommendations?

In episode 17 of “Can I Ask You One Question?”, I ask Dr. Kathleen Starr (author of Why We Resist: The Surprising Truths about Behavior Change) to help us understand why patients are often resistant to care.

Below are the key points from the interview. Scroll down to see the entire interview.

1. Find out where you need to meet the patient.

Simply asking a question like, “What have you heard about X,Y, and Z?” gives a sense of how their past experiences are shaping how they’re going to interpret your recommendations. This gives you an opportunity to correct any misinterpretations.

Patients are not blank slates, rather they bring their own set of experiences and expectations to the table.

“It’s not that patients are good or bad, it’s just human nature that we’re working with.”

2. Dig into the emotional drivers.

Motivation isn’t all rational, and patients may not be moved to act on the facts alone.

Example question: How confident do you feel about this treatment plan?

We know that people not believing in their medication is a factor in them not adhering to their medication. This question opens the door to a better understanding of factors leading to resistance.

Another example: “Will you do this?

A questing like this drives commitment on the patient’s part. Research has found that people are more likely to commit to something once they have verbally committed to it.

Another approach if you have a good relationship with the patient, say “Hey, I’d like you to do me a favor.”

“We are social animals and we are really compelled by a sense of obligation.”

3. Inspire motivation

Just because people aren’t following our recommendations doesn’t mean there’s not motivation.

“There can be a huge gap between what we want to do and what we actually do.”

Moving from intention to action can be as simple as forming an action plan. Help patients convert vague goals into concrete action plans.

Get people to form healthy habits through “implementation intentions.” An example would be, “Every time I let the dog out I drink a glass of water.”

Watch the interview below:

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