Early detection of certain diseases, especially cardiovascular disease (CVD), and which incorporates approaches that implement lifestyle changes, medication, and counseling, has the potential to alter the course of the devastation the disease can cause (Murimi & Harpel, 2010). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends regular examination of obesity and health-related issues, such as cardiovascular screenings for everyone (Murimi & Harpel, 2010). Documented research demonstrates that a healthy lifestyle that includes a proper diet, exercise, no smoking, and limited alcohol decreases the risk of CVD (Gordon, Lavoie, Arsenault, Ditto, & Bacon, 2008).
Kehler, Christensen, Risor, Lauritzen, and Christensen (2009) reported that patients who had a discussion with their doctor about cardiovascular disease including information about the disease, knowledge about the disease, and perception of risk and prevention strategies indicated that they were able to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into their diet. Many respondents reported feeling relief and empowerment following the conversation with their doctor (Kehler et al., 2009).
Lifestyle changes suggested for a client could include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, engaging in a heart healthy diet, exercising, losing weight, taking medication as prescribed, and finding ways to relieve stress. Lack of compliance related to the identified lifestyle changes is an issue. Sargeant, Valli, Ferrier and MacLeod (2008) suggest that it is very difficult for individuals to change comfortable and enjoyable behaviors in which they have been engaged their entire lives. There are many reasons clients do not comply, and finding ways to facilitate compliance is a key role of the health psychologist.
A patient’s motivation to change is a critical starting point. A counselor will be able to provide guidance to the client more effectively by conducting an initial assessment. If clients are not ready to change and the counselor treats them as though they are, compliance rarely occurs (Sargeant et al., 2008). Once clients have been guided through the stages of change and reach the point where they understand the issues, then the practitioner can work with clients instead of simply telling clients what to do (Sargeant et al., 2008).
Another compliance issue involves the manner in which patients do or do not follow their regimens in taking prescribed medication. Doctors prescribe medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- two factors that are often identified as risk factors for cardiovascular that can be controlled with medication (Aggarwal & Mosca, 2010). The study found that 14% of patients who did not take their medication had a likelihood of blood pressure that was more apt to be out of control than patients who took their medication (Aggarwal & Mosca, 2010). Aggarwal and Mosca (2010) found that clients who do not follow their medication instructions also had a higher...