Mayo Clinic Proceedings Home

The Effectiveness of Wellness Coaching for Improving Quality of Life



      To learn more about the potential psychosocial benefits of wellness coaching. Although wellness coaching is increasing in popularity, there are few published outcome studies.

      Patients and Methods

      In a single-cohort study design, 100 employees who completed the 12-week wellness coaching program were of a mean age of 42 years, 90% were women, and most were overweight or obese. Three areas of psychosocial functioning were assessed: quality of life (QOL; 5 domains and overall), depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), and perceived stress level (Perceived Stress Scale-10). Participants were recruited from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2011; data were collected up to July 31, 2012, and were analyzed from August 1, 2012, through October 31, 2013.


      These 100 wellness coaching completers exhibited significant improvements in all 5 domains of QOL and overall QOL (P<.0001), reduced their level of depressive symptoms (P<.0001), and reduced their perceived stress level (P<.001) after 12 weeks of in-person wellness coaching, and they maintained these improvements at the 24-week follow-up.


      In this single-arm cohort study (level 2b evidence), participating in wellness coaching was associated with improvement in 3 key areas of psychosocial functioning: QOL, mood, and perceived stress level. The results from this single prospective cohort study suggest that these areas of functioning improve after participating in wellness coaching; however, randomized clinical trials involving large samples of diverse individuals are needed to establish level 1 evidence for wellness coaching.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BMI (body mass index), PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), QOL (quality of life)
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Mayo Clinic Proceedings
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Frates E.P.
        • Moore M.A.
        • Lopez C.N.
        • McMahon G.T.
        Coaching for behavior change in physiatry.
        Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011; 90: 1074-1082
        • Hance B.J.
        • Moore M.
        Climbing out of negativity and up to the top of mount lasting change.
        ACSMs Health Fit J. 2009; 13: 27-32
        • Chapman L.S.
        • Lesch N.
        • Baun M.P.
        The role of health and wellness coaching in worksite health promotion.
        Am J Health Promot. 2007; 21 (iii): suppl 1-10
        • Emmons K.M.
        • Rollnick S.
        Motivational interviewing in health care settings.
        Am J Prev Med. 2001; 20: 68-74
        • Vale M.J.
        • Jelinek M.V.
        • Best J.D.
        • et al.
        • COACH Study Group
        Coaching patients On Achieving Cardiovascular Health (COACH): a multicenter randomized trial in patients with coronary heart disease.
        Arch Intern Med. 2003; 163: 2775-2783
        • Jelinek M.
        • Vale M.J.
        • Liew D.
        • et al.
        The COACH program produces sustained improvements in cardiovascular risk factors and adherence to recommended medications—two years follow-up.
        Heart Lung Circ. 2009; 18: 388-392
        • Havenar J.
        Adapted motivational interviewing for increasing physical activity: a 12 month clinical trial.
        Diss Abstr Int. 2007; 68: 2291
        • Appel L.J.
        • Clark J.M.
        • Yey H.C.
        • et al.
        Comparative effectiveness of weight-loss interventions in clinical practice.
        N Engl J Med. 2011; 365: 1959-1968
        • Clark M.M.
        • Jenkins S.M.
        • Limoges K.A.
        • et al.
        Is usage of a wellness center associated with improved quality of life?.
        Am J Health Promot. 2013; 27: 316-322
        • Howick J.
        • Chalmers I.
        • Glasziou P.
        • et al.
        • OCEBM Levels of Evidence Working Group
        The Oxford 2011 Levels of Evidence.
        Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford, UK2011 (Accessed February 10, 2014)
        • Rummans T.A.
        • Clark M.M.
        • Sloan J.A.
        • et al.
        Impacting quality of life for patients with advanced cancer with a structured multidisciplinary intervention: a randomized controlled trial.
        J Clin Oncol. 2006; 24: 635-642
        • Clark M.M.
        • Soyring J.E.
        • Jenkins S.M.
        • et al.
        The integration of studio cycling into a worksite stress management programme.
        Stress Health. 2014; 30: 166-176
        • Mettler E.A.
        • Preston H.R.
        • Jenkins S.M.
        • et al.
        Motivational improvements for health behavior change from wellness coaching.
        Am J Health Behav. 2014; 38: 83-91
      1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Wellness Coach Training (Minnesota). Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; Accessed June 5, 2014.

        • Norman G.R.
        • Sloan J.A.
        • Wyrwich K.W.
        Interpretation of changes in health-related quality of life—the remarkable universality of half a standard deviation.
        Med Care. 2003; 41: 582-592
        • Clark M.M.
        • Novotny P.J.
        • Patten C.A.
        • et al.
        Motivational readiness for physical activity and quality of life in long-term lung cancer survivors.
        Lung Cancer. 2008; 61: 117-122
        • Locke D.E.
        • Decker P.A.
        • Sloan J.A.
        • et al.
        Validation of single-item linear analog scale assessment of quality of life in neuro-oncology patients.
        J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007; 34: 628-638
        • Clark M.M.
        • Warren B.A.
        • Hagen P.T.
        • et al.
        Stress level, health behaviors, and quality of life in employees joining a wellness center.
        Am J Health Promot. 2011; 26: 21-25
        • Kroenke K.
        • Spitzer R.L.
        • Williams J.B.
        The PHQ-9: validity of a brief depression severity measure.
        J Gen Intern Med. 2001; 16: 606-613
        • Cohen S.
        Perceived stress in a probability sample in the United States.
        in: Spacapan S. Oskamp S. The Social Psychology of Health. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA1988: 31-67
        • Cohen S.
        • Kamarck T.
        • Mermelstein R.
        A global measure of perceived stress.
        J Health Soc Behav. 1983; 24: 385-396
        • Warner D.O.
        • Patten C.A.
        • Ames S.C.
        • Offord K.
        • Schroeder D.
        Smoking behavior and perceived stress in cigarette smokers undergoing elective surgery.
        Anesthesiology. 2004; 100: 1125-1137
        • Cohen S.
        • Janicki-Deverts D.
        Who's stressed? Distributions of psychological stress in the United States in probability samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009.
        J Appl Soc Psychol. 2012; 42: 1320-1334
        • Groeneveld I.F.
        • Proper K.I.
        • van der Beek A.J.
        • van Mechelen W.
        Sustained body weight reduction by an individual-based lifestyle intervention for workers in the construction industry at risk for cardiovascular disease: results of a randomized controlled trial.
        Prev Med. 2010; 51: 240-246