Updated: November 5th, 2020

Maryland University of Integrative Health recently held our second annual Research Symposium to highlight the University’s research and scholarship. The center-piece of the event was a poster session displaying research from members of the MUIH community. Awards of excellence are given each year, and this year’s Student Research Poster Award winners were Ronald DeMartin, Marion Bolding, and Abbi Lichtenstein.

Ron, Marion and Abbi are students in the Health and Wellness Coaching program and were awarded for their research study titled, “Design for a Study Exploring Individuals’ Attitudes of Health and Wellness Coaching.” We recently interviewed the team about their study, and the role of Health and Wellness Coaching within the integrative health field. 

You were awarded for a research study you designed to examine individuals’ attitudes towards Health and Wellness Coaching. Tell me a little more about your design, and why you believe this needs to be explored.

There seems to be a lack of understanding of what health and wellness coaching (HWC) is. The research shows that HWC helps prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and others. However, when I tell people I’m a health and wellness coach their first response is usually something like “I need help with nutrition. Can you help me with that?” We found that the public has a different concept of what a health and wellness coach does. We decided that we would like to conduct a survey to determine what the perceptions or attitudes are about HWC, and from the results we can hopefully determine the best approach to help educate the public.

How did you collaborate to create this design?

The three of us attended last year’s Research Symposium and decided we wanted to work together for the 2017 event. Once the 2017 symposium was announced, we connected and began to collaborate in person to get started with the abstract. As the project progressed we moved to phone calls and used Google docs, and received guidance from our MUIH mentors, James Snow and Darryl Nault.

Do you have plans on executing this design, or is this intended for other researchers to execute?

We are working on the execution phase now by creating the survey questions, getting Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, and then performing the actual survey and analyzing results. Our goal is to present our research findings at next year’s symposium.

How will a study like this support the Health and Wellness Coaching field?  

Our hope is to share with other health and wellness coaches the best approach to educating the public to the benefits of HWC. The public will have a clearer understanding of what a health and wellness coach does, especially with chronic diseases on the rise. Research has shown that health and wellness coaching can help prevent or mitigate chronic diseases because we guide people to make positive lifestyle changes which will have a positive impact on their lives.