Know Thy Patient: Enhancing Lifestyle Interventions with Psychological Assessment
Disease reversal and prevention interventions aim to promote substantial lifestyle changes in patients that are maintained for the long-term. The science of behavior change has identified many factors associated with initiating and maintaining lifestyle changes, many of which are psychosocial in nature. Disease reversal interventions can be significantly enhanced through the incorporation of a comprehensive psychological evaluation. The value of psychological assessment has been firmly established for the purposes of evaluating candidates for bariatric surgery and organ transplant, which necessitate strict and long-term lifestyle modification to maximize surgical outcomes. One of the first Heart Disease Reversal Programs housed within a Cardiology department, started at UC Davis in the early 1990s, included a psychologist and a psychological evaluation that led to a tailored plan for their patients. Psychologists also receive training in both applied research and program development/evaluation, making them well-suited to organize, coordinate, and direct disease reversal and prevention programs. Psychological assessment provides a way to gain a more complete picture of our patients, enabling us to better tailor treatment interventions that work.