The Role of Primary Care Providers in Encouraging Older Patients to Change Their Lifestyle Behaviors

Shoshana H. Bardach, Nancy E. Schoenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to identify older patients’ perceptions of primary care providers’ influence on their likelihood of improving diet and physical activity. Methods: 104 adults ages 65 and older were interviewed immediately following a routine primary care visit about their plans and motivations for behavior change and how their clinic visit would influence their likelihood of making lifestyle changes. All interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using a constant comparison approach. Results: Participants reported that their providers influence their health behaviors by developing strong relationships, addressing concerns and encouraging change, and providing concrete instruction. When providers did not discuss diet or physical activity, or mentioned these topics only briefly, participants often perceived the message that they should continue their current behaviors. Conclusions: Whether and how diet and physical activity are discussed in primary care influences the likelihood that older adults will make changes in these behaviors. Clinical Implications: These findings highlight the need for a patient-centered counseling approach and caution providers to think twice before omitting discussion of the need for lifestyle change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-334
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis Group. LLC.


  • Health behavior
  • lifestyle change
  • older adults
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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