E-Book Excerpt: Building the Case for Health and Wellness Coaching


A growing amount of research on the benefits of health and wellness coaching on patients has been collected in the Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Led by Gary Sforzo, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of exercise & sport sciences at Ithaca College, the compendium was created in 2017 and includes 16 years of previous data from the field of health and wellness coaching. In 2019, an addendum was supplemented to the original body of work, which is still growing. The goal of the compendium is clear, according to its authors, “we aim to provide HWC practitioners with the latest findings while also assisting HWC researchers in identifying gaps in the literature to further advance the related knowledge base.” 

The addendum covers research related to the impact of health and wellness coaching and a wide range of topics and conditions such as cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. In addition, studies also focus on menopausal depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and drug abuse. The body of research also includes studies on “coaching for wellness,” which is one of the more top studied categories, according to the addendum, which includes topics such as physical activity, stress, leadership, and selfefficacy. 

Health and wellness coaching can fill in the gaps between provider appointments and help guide the patient or client through a wide range of conditions. Known to already benefit those navigating chronic illness, a 2020 study published in the journal, PLOS One, sought to evaluate the effect of health and wellness coaching onpain. Researchers observed that health and wellness coaching was “associated with clinically meaningful reductions in pain intensity and pain related interference” and was “associated with improved psychological pain-related functioning and physical functioning related to pain.”

In addition, Jordan authored a 2021 study on “The Role of the Health Coach in a Global Pandemic,” which was published in the journal, Global Advances in Health and Medicine. The study found that, “as the co-morbidities and other chronic conditions related to COVID-19 among individuals and families in low-income communities are worsened by dual forces (lifestyle/behavioral choices and ingrained structural inequities), adding the support of certified health coaches to build trust, provide more convenient access to address vaccine hesitancy, and dispel falsehoods, is an effective means for advancing health and wellbeing.” 

According to the study, Jordan summarized challenges for health coaches and wrote that in viral pandemics and chronic disease epidemics, the health coach must operate on three fronts:

  • Facilitating individual behavior change
  • Advocating for improved social conditions 
  • Actively engage with next-generation thinking on cultural competence for underserved minority groups. 

“Next-generation cultural competence” goes beyond early diversity training, according to Jordan. Instead, it builds upon “the recent moral reckoning of racial and ethnic injustices, and the calls for new engagement with next-generational cultural competence.” 

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from the e-book, The Integrative Health Coaching Approach to Care: A Path Forward. To access the full text, click here.