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How to Use an HRA and Change Readiness Data to Shape Your Wellness Program

By Alyssa Carter, Director of Marketing at Wellsource

Have you ever launched a wellness initiative only to see minimal engagement and participation? At Wellsource, this is a common challenge we hear from our clients. Every wellness program is different, but starting with reviewing your population data is often the best place to start. And one of the best types of data to look at is your population’s readiness to change.

What Is Change Readiness?

At Wellsource, we use the Transtheoretical Model (TTM)—which is also called the Stages of Change model—to determine where individuals are in the decision-making process, particularly as it applies to their health. The TTM suggests a framework for thinking of the decision-making cycle people go through when making health-based changes, knowing that all individuals move through the cycle at different speeds.

The 5 Stages of ChangeThe Readiness to Change Journey

  1. Precontemplation (Not Ready)
  2. Contemplation (Interested)
  3. Preparation (Ready to Change)
  4. Action (Recently Changed)
  5. Maintenance (Continuing New Behavior)

The TTM suggests there are six stages, although the final stage—termination, meaning that the individual has met their goals and been so successful that they have no desire to ever return to their old habits—is not regularly met and therefore is often not considered as a part of the model.

Ask anyone during casual conversation if they’d like to be healthier, and the majority will say something like “yes, of course, I want to make healthy changes.” But that doesn't account for if they’re actually ready to make a change right now. By asking this question within your health risk assessment (HRA), you can gain more accurate—and truthful—insight into who’s ready to change, and how soon.

How Can Change Readiness Improve Population Health?

Knowing where your members are in the Stages of Change is crucial to delivering the right resources at the right time—and a quality, evidence-based HRA will collect this kind of information. For example, Wellsource HRAs ask if participants are interested in making healthy changes with the options to select “not yet,” “yes, but not now,” and “yes, I’m ready.” Some questions also have additional response options, such as “I recently became more active” or “I’ve been physically active for more than six months.” The answers to these questions provide direct indications as to whether your population is open to making healthy lifestyle changes.

Once you know where your members are in the change journey, you’re able to target your health and wellness programs more effectively and make lasting impacts on health. After all, just knowing readiness to change isn’t the goal—the goal is to deliver resources and interventions at the opportune time. Make sure your HRA offers effective reporting capabilities that shows change readiness data by category (such as nutrition, exercise, etc.), so you can tailor your wellness program not only on an individual basis, but also group similar population segments for greater results. For example, if 40% of the population indicates that they’re ready to make changes in their nutrition, focusing programming on exercise modifications—rather than improving nutrition—may not garner the most engagement or enthusiasm.

Planning your wellness program isn’t easy, and population health programs aren’t a one-and-done deal. By ensuring your HRA captures change readiness data, you’ll have to the right information improve both engagement and outcomes.

If you’re interested in learning more about readiness to change and the implications for population health professionals, we have a helpful guide available so you can dive deeper into this top. 


Tags: health risk assessment

"Good health is your greatest asset. You will never regret a decision to take better care of your health."

Don Hall, DrPH, CHES, Founder Wellsource