During the pandemic, online health coaching from medical students helped Veterans and Canadians improve their physical and mental health
MONTREAL, May 27, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Isolation measures for Canadians during the pandemic have been shown to reduce healthy eating, regular physical activity, and sleep quality while increasing mental stress and weight gain. In response to this deterioration in physical and mental health, an online health promotion program developed at the McGill Comprehensive Health Improvement Program (CHIP) and funded by Veterans Affairs Canada was made freely available to over 1,600 Canadians during the pandemic. The primary beneficiaries of the program were Canadian Veterans and their families. The clinical impact on physical and mental health was recently presented to the faculty and staff at Department of Medicine rounds, McGill University Health Center (https://youtu.be/Z-3koUZ-nzc).
Medical students provide online health coaching to Canadians during the pandemic with excellent results.
A total of 9 Health Missions, each lasting 6-10 weeks, were completed using the MissionVAV platform. Overall, participants were very physically active, exercising, on average, the equivalent of walking 5 miles daily. During the DROP-5 Healthy Weight Mission, over 40% of overweight participants lost at least ½ pound each week (minimum of 5 lbs over 10 weeks). Throughout the program, participants also shared their experiences with teammates and rival teams, received daily health tips, and learned strategies to manage stress, sleep better and eat healthier. Overall, mental health indicators including, high stress levels and poor sleep quality, improved by at least 20% in nearly half of all participants.
During the past 8 months, medical students from McGill's Faculty of Medicine volunteered to act as online health coaches after they received training from faculty health professionals. These weekly email contacts, customized to the needs of each participant, further improved the positive impact of the Health Missions. With the addition of health coaching, early drop-outs declined significantly (from 19% to 7%) while participants remained in the Mission 36% longer. Daily exercise levels also increased by nearly 20%. The medical students also benefited from the experience as they learned first-hand the challenges surrounding adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits known to improve both physical and mental health.
The upcoming "Mission Zen" will focus on finding balance in one's life as we emerge from the pandemic.
The medical students will once again be on board to help participants in their journey to master their health. Registration on missionvav.com is free.
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SOURCE McGill Comprehensive Health Improvement Program (CHIP)