As chronic, behavior-driven diseases have replaced acute, infectious diseases as the primary health challenge of our time; we might say the disease prevention focus has shifted from immunization to motivation--immunization controversies notwithstanding. 

Recently, the explosion of mobile technology and social networking has escalated these conversations by providing an overwhelming array of ‘solutions’ for motivating people toward better health. 

Unfortunately, few of these solutions have delivered tangible, sustainable results.  Why?  Motivation, and particularly motivation for health and healthy behavior, is inherently complex and dynamic while solutions have tended to be simpler and more static-- usually focused solely on a single motivator.  

Motivation is a personal thing.   While we may generally have an individual 'motivational profile',  our motivation is also incredibly variable, moving with our unique set of circumstances and sum of experiences at a point in time.  The end result is often that our short-term actions don't map to our articulated long-term goals and we struggle to understand why.  

The vast array of technology-enabled health motivation tools can be roughly categorized by their primary focus on one of 5 core motivators that attempt to address the incongruence of our short-term actions and long term aspirations.

  • Health Information in Context
  • Healthy Competition
  • Recognition of Achievement
  • Straight Up Money!
  • Clinician and Peer Relationships

Over the next few posts, we'll examine each of these 5 core motivators and consider how they might be integrated into more dynamic, impactful, solutions.  

Motivation for health is a massive challenge but with thoughtful dialogue we can make progress toward meaningful tools that address the most fundamental issue we face in health care.  

Let's get motivating!