The Lifestyle clinics guide adults aged 18 years and above to lead a healthy lifestyle by offering an integrated wellness program run by a multidisciplinary team in accordance with evidence-based care. Healthy lifestyle clinics are available in seven health centers: Rawdat Al Khail, Leabaib, Umm Salal, Muaither, Al Wajba, Al Khor and Al Ruwais. The general practitioner refers the patient in his registered health center to these clinics if the patient has a risk factor related to lifestyle such as obesity, smoking, stress or sleep problems, and others. The community medicine physicians who run these clinics are highly qualified in leadership, evaluation, and management skills, in addition to receiving the support of the multidisciplinary team.
Dr. Sarah Mousa, Community Medicine Specialist and Wellness Center In Charge at PHCC’s Rawdat Al Khail Health Center, said that according to international figures, chronic diseases resulting from unhealthy lifestyle choices are the most common root cause of morbidity and mortality, in addition to an increase in “disability-adjusted life years (DALYS)”. Healthy lifestyle clinics focus on improving patients' health through nutrition, physical activity, healthy sleep, emotional and mental well-being, smoking cessation, and weight management.
During the first visit, and because health behavior modification is complex and requires multiple interventions, each patient is comprehensively assessed by identifying the social, behavioral, and biological aspects related to the desired health outcome. In addition, each patient's readiness and desire for behavioral change is assessed and vital signs related to lifestyle are recorded. The necessary laboratory tests are carried out to study each patient more extensively, which will allow diagnosis and continuous monitoring of health status, such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, blood lipid disorders, osteoarthritis, etc., and/or referral of the patient to the appropriate specialty. All patient medications are also reviewed to give a clear picture of side effects that may be related to lifestyle signs.
Dr. Sarah also highlighted that patient-centeredness and involvement in the treatment plan are key to the success and continuation of positive outcomes, as people are more motivated to change when they believe they can influence the outcome. This approach aligns with the five-element model recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, including “Assess” by seeking to understand what patients know about healthy lifestyle behavior, why it is important to them, and their willingness to change. In addition, the “Advise” component, which covers discussion of health risks and the positive effects of behavior change, and the “Agree” component, which includes setting specific, appropriate, measurable, and achievable goals that are time-bound. As well as the element of “Assist”, which is to enhance the patient's participation in every decision and agreement on the treatment plan. Finally, use the “Arrange” component to determine the next step in either follow-up or collaborative care with a health coach, fitness program, support clinics, or referral to secondary care if warranted.
The lifestyle clinic offers a different way to control risk factors by providing the patient with the basic skills required to effectively change behaviors through multiple consultations and understanding the environment resulting in unhealthy behaviors in order to address the root causes rather than providing a temporary treatment prescription.
Dr. Sarah explained that caregivers in healthy lifestyle clinics focus on achieving small and realistic changes initially, that the focus on one healthy behavior at a time. There is no doubt that effective communication between the doctor and the patient is the basis for promoting healthy behavior and an important factor for the success and continuity of treatment adherence.