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Motivational Interviewing; new technique used to transform unhealthy lifestyles in the UAE

Abu Dhabi , : Traditionally, taking care of patients meant minimizing the impact of disease, and the most dramatic example has been a 20% to 30% reduction in mortality by treating heart disease patients with s-statin or a beta-blocker. More recently, however, multiple studies on primary prevention have showed very large correlations between specific healthy lifestyle behaviors and a decrease in the incidence of several chronic diseases as well as mortality.
Unfortunately, as Family Medicine Specialist Dr. Marie Carole Elia from Al Bateen PHC in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) explains, information alone does not lead to a change in behavior as is often the case here in the UAE.
“Repeatedly educating a patient is not always successful and can become frustrating for both the physician and the patient. (MI) or brief intervention is a psychotherapy technique that was originally devised to treat addictions, but was also proven effective in dealing with risk factor modification. It can be used in primary care, and hence its potential value in primary prevention in the UAE,” says Dr Elia. Motivational interviewing is a cognitive behavioral technique based on the trans-theoretical model, more commonly known as the stages of change model, which recognizes that before changing an undesired behavior, a patient rotates through the stages of pre-contemplation, contemplation, planning, action and finally maintenance.

“The follow up is very important, as it allows identification of any barriers to behavioral modification and of any specific circumstances that may lead to a lapse or a relapse,” says Dr Elia. “In recent times, when unhealthy foods are readily available and people have become more sedentary, an active lifestyle, a healthy diet and modalities to reduce stress have become a must for maintaining good health and a sense of well being. Primary care providers are the most suited to help patients change unhealthy behaviors. For that purpose, training in motivational interviewing is easy and beneficial for both individual patients and our population as a whole.”

Dr Elia was speaking this morning at the Family Medicine Conference that took place at the 5th (ADMC), which will continue on Tuesday 25 October at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and is expected to attract more than 5000 professionals working in the Primary Healthcare, Emergency, Patient Safety, Rehabilitation, Pharma and Nursing sectors across the region.

The year’s exhibition features 150 companies from 30 countries across the globe including Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Mubadala, Bactiguard, Lifeline Hospital Group, Pfizer, Sultan bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City and Lagos & Partners.

Philips Healthcare Middle East in cooperation with Lifeline Hospital will be running free health checks on BMI, lung capacity, blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol at ADMC. NMC Healthcare is also giving visitors an opportunity for free health checks on their stand as well as a 50 per cent discount on their next mammogram at NMC Healthcare in the UAE.

“The private sector in Abu Dhabi now provides a significant proportion of outpatient clinical services to the community and is making an increasing contribution to inpatient requirements,” says Dr. Shajir Gaffar, Corporate Manager, Lifeline Hospital Group. “We at Lifeline believe that this increased work brings increased social responsibilities. It is therefore natural that we should show leadership and make a contribution to the success of the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress.”

Abu Dhabi Medical Congress is open for trade visitors between 9.30am – 5.00pm on Tuesday 25 Oct. For information about ADMC, please call +971 3365161 or visit

About Informa Exhibitions:
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About SKMC:
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About Lifeline Hospital Group:
For more information about Lifeline, please visit
For media enquiries please contact:
Inga Stevens
PR and Social Media Manager
Life Science Division
Informa Exhibitions
T: +971 4 407 2743
F: +971 4 336 4021

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