Individual health counseling is a form of intervention designed to minimize the effects of chronic health disease and to offer a path towards good health practices. The aim of the present study was to explore the experiences of those persons who participated in health counseling in order to assess the psychosocial significance of the counseling upon their health behavior. In addition the study was concerned with the factors which underlay peoples' decision to sign up for health counseling. The research involved 11 semi-structured interviews with individuals who had participated in a municipality based health counseling program. Data was analyzed using Malterud's systemic text condensation and a theoretical framework around Bandura's social cognitive theory. Analysis revealed that an approach tailored to each individual with minor short-term goals accompanied by feeling supported by the counselor produced the greatest impact on behavior. Receiving feedback from the counselor and feeling positive about the relationship were seen as essential. These aspects were also crucial in the decision to undertake health counseling. The study indicates that whether individual's sign up on their own initiative or conversely are invited to join the program has no influence upon their motivation to change their behavior. Overall the respondents demonstrated improvement in their behavior and attitudes towards their health. However, the study also indicates that this form of intervention is less or even ineffective without the support of the individual's immediate family.
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2014, Vol 55, Issue 6