Action planning can help a patient reach their goal in small manageable steps. Most goals are daunting, such as losing weight, stop smoking, or stop drinking too much. Here are some action strategies that will help you reach your goal.
Action Planning: Let Patients Make The Decisions
It’s critical that patients choose both the goal and the action steps they plan to take. It can be tempting to make suggestions, but action plans need to come from patients. For example, you may think the top priority change is getting more physical activity, but if the patient is more interested in modifying their diet, that’s going to be the goal. People, however, can be overly ambitious. Part of skilled nurse or clinicians job, is to help in the selection of realistic goals and action steps. Try having a menu of options that can give patients ideas for specific steps they can take. healthfinder.gov has lots of suggestions for making healthy changes.
Action Planning: Practice Makes Perfect
Although it’s a straightforward process once you have it under your belt, action planning has many moving parts. You need to:
- Determine whether your patient is ready to make a change.
- Guide the choice of goal and action steps without taking over.
- Assess your patient’s confidence in completing the action steps and help your patient revise the plan if his confidence is not high enough.
- Identify and address barriers that could keep your patient from completing the action plan.
- Follow up after the visit and modify the plan as needed.
Some excellent reference tools to review to help set up plan strategies are:
- Make Action Plans, a tool from the AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit
- teach-back method
Action planning presents an opportunity to achieve concrete progress on health promotion goals.