South Kingstown, RI. (July 9, 2014) – In the July/August 2014 issue of the Health Promotion Practitioner, Sara Johnson, Ph.D., Senior Vice President at Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc. is interviewed by Paul Terry, Ph.D., EVP and Chief Science Officer at StayWell Health Management.

Dr. Terry writes that one of the most transformative research areas for health promotion relates to “coaction” – that is, those who are successful changing one habit area appear more effective at improving in other areas. When leaders in health promotion deal with organizations, we need to explore the potential for “coaction” between behavior change interventions and cultures. The following are some of Dr. Johnson’s quotes on coaction, organizational work culture, and behavior change.

“If we analyzed culture elements alongside the behavior change factors we usually measure, we could show how improvements in an organization’s culture of health relate to improvements in the behavioral areas and vice versa. We would expect some synergistic organizational-level efforts (like policy changes) and individual behavior change efforts (like smoking cessation and healthy eating). The strength of that coaction may depend on the stage of change distribution for individual behaviors being targeted because folks in earlier stages of change are more resistant to policy changes. The converse is, unfortunately, also likely to be true. That is, if you have a perfect, supportive culture of wellness but fail to provide tailored behavior change programs that respect where individuals are regarding readiness to change, you’re bound to have less impact.

We need to standardize some way of measuring culture more comprehensively to reflect well-being, not just wellness. And we absolutely need to tackle culture and behavior change simultaneously to determine whether we get the synergies we would predict.”

Pro-Change is currently exploring opportunities with partners to investigate synergies between cultural and behavior change interventions.