Training in health coaching skills for health professionals who work with people with progressive neurological conditions: A realist evaluation

Freya Davies, Wood Fiona, Alison Bullock, Carolyn Wallace, Adrian Edwards

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Supporting people to self‐manage their long‐term conditions is a UK policy priority. Health coaching is one approach health professionals can use to provide such support. There has been little research done on how to train clinicians in health coaching or how to target training to settings where it may be most effective.
To develop theories to describe how training health professionals in health coaching works, for whom and in what circumstances, with a focus on those working with people with progressive neurological conditions.
Realist evaluation using mixed methods (participant observation, pre‐ and post‐training questionnaires, and telephone interviews with participants and trainers). Realist data analysis used to develop and refine theories.
Two 1‐day face‐to‐face training sessions in health coaching with 11 weeks between first and second days.
Setting and participants
Twenty health‐care professionals who work with people with neurological conditions in the UK, two training facilitators.
Four theories were developed using context‐mechanism‐outcome configurations to describe how training triggers critical reflection; builds knowledge, skills and confidence; how participants evaluate the relevance of the training; and their experiences of implementing the training. Some participants reported a major shift in practice, and others implemented the training in more limited ways.
Fully embracing the role of coach is difficult for health professionals working in positions and settings where their clinical expertise appears most highly valued.
Training should address the practicality of using coaching approaches within existing roles, while organizations should consider their role in facilitating implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-933
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Expectations: An International Journal of Public Participation in Health Care and Health Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2020


  • continuing professional development
  • health coaching
  • person-centred care
  • realist evaluation
  • self-management


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