We recently had results of a US specific study shared with us and we believe that what is reported below could be a glimpse into the future of health and wellness coaching in Australia, as we follow the same trajectory.
A summer of the study appears below, which was conducted by Pillar Inc. and USF College of Public Health in the United States. We have also provided the full report via the link below.
The State of Health Coaching – The latest industry study, with data shared by over 1,000 qualified health coaches.
Health and wellness coaching has emerged as a rapidly expanding field with a robust clinical evidence and hundreds of training programs nationwide. That said, the term coach remains poorly understood, often leading to stakeholder confusion with respect to coach qualifications, scope and applications in patient care.
Dr. Jennifer Bleck, Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health, and Pillar partnered on a cross-sectional cohort research study to assess the state of health coaching today.
They defined qualified health coaches as practitioners that have graduated from programs approved by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching. These coaches are trained in evidence-based models of behaviour change coupled with education in lifestyle medicine across nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and positive social connection. (The findings related primarily to coaches working in the United States.)
- Data collection took place over 16 days, from June 9, 2022, through June 25, 2022,
- The study call was directed to trained health and wellness coaches, and respondents self-selected to participate with no direct benefits. Inclusion criteria stated respondents had to self-identify as a coach or have participated in a health and wellness coaching training program. A total of 1,137 coaches completed the questionnaire. Of the 1,137 respondents, 939 (82.3%) responded to all items.
Health coaches reported a median of 4.0 years, and an average of 5.4 years of experience.
43.9% of respondents selected that they coach individuals with chronic conditions.
Working with clinicians
A total of 41.9% reported partnering with a clinician either currently (28.1%) or in the past (13.8%), and an additional 38.6% would like to work with clinicians. Moreover, 12.6% of respondents (n=127) said they were clinicians.
When asked to select all primary areas of focus, 926 coaches reported at least one area of focus. The most common categories were weight loss (56.2%), nutrition (55.9%), fitness & movement (53.0%) and sleep (44.1%).
Top areas of focus include the pillars of lifestyle medicine: nutrition, fitness and sleep.
60.3% respondents Identified as working part-time.
56.8% Private Practice
22.0% Digital Health Company
20.0% Healthcare Setting (inc. VA)
15.1% Corporate Well-being
Frequency & Duration
When asked how often they typically meet with each client, coach and clients predominantly meet on a weekly (42.2%) or bi-weekly (33.9%) basis.
30-60 mins was average session length;
Over 80% of respondents expressed interest in offering group coaching.
All coaches were asked: What metrics do you use or have you used for tracking each client’s progress?
When provided with an open-ended response window, 774 coaches shared their methods and listed a variety of frameworks, tools, and processes for measurement.
Generally speaking, there was little consistency in the listed measures of success. Both objective measurements such as biometrics (31.0%) were listed, as well as subjective measures of self-reported goal progress (28.0%) and general client feedback (20.4%). Behaviour tracking either through self-report or tracking systems (e.g. web or mobile applications) were also commonly cited (20.0%). Additionally, 16.1% of respondents responded that they use “coach notes” with no further clarification.
We’ve been given permission to share the full report, which you can access here.