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Medical education and nutritionNutritankPrimary care and holistic healthcare

Making Every Contact Count: An approach to behaviour change

By August 8, 2022October 12th, 2022No Comments

What is it?

Making every contact count, or ‘MECC’, is a useful approach to behaviour change, supported by NHS England and Public Health England. It can be used to promote a range of positive lifestyle choices, including:

– Smoking cessation

– Reducing alcohol intake

– Eating a balanced diet

– Increasing physical activity

– Healthy weight

– Improving mental health and wellbeing

The MECC approach harnesses the frequent, regular interactions between individuals, such as between healthcare professionals and patients, to enhance awareness and motivation of healthier habits. Subsequently, these changes can reduce the risk of developing poor health and chronic disease.

How do I use it?

The MECC approach involves three key steps, aimed to use open questions and active listening to achieve opportunistic, collaborative discussions in a person-centered manner.

1) ASK: Recognise an opportunity to discuss health and wellbeing, then ask an open question to explore the issue further.

2) ASSIST: Improve the individual’s awareness of possible solutions to the issue, and understand the support required to work towards these goals.

3) ACT: Encourage the individual to identify an action, which may be supported through signposting of resources.

How can I signpost effectively?

Providing reliable information and resources enables individuals to take ownership of meaningful decisions regarding their health and wellbeing. However, when signposting resources, it is important to ensure these are reliable and up to date. Consider the most appropriate format of the information for the individual, such as easy read or translated options. Being familiar with the content, and talking it through with the patient, is much more likely to be effective in promoting ongoing engagement.

Further learning on MECC:

Making Every Contact Count website:

Making Every Contact Count e-lfh module:

Dr Jess Laidlaw

Dr Jess Laidlaw is one of the junior doctor e-newsletter leads for Nutritank, and a GP trainee in Bristol particularly interested in lifestyle medicine and child health. She is currently working in General Practice and Population Health, undertaking projects on childhood obesity, and the role of a low-calorie diet in Type 2 Diabetes. Jess has a BSc in Experimental Psychology, and a PGCert in Teaching and Learning for Healthcare Professionals. She has recently completed the Plant Based Nutrition course at the University of Winchester. Jess enjoys a range of outdoor pursuits and team sports, aiming to soon qualify as a Personal Trainer. Jess is passionate about combining her personal and professional interests to inform and optimise patient care, with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Instagram: @jrlaidlaw Twitter: @DrJRL_

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