Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Matthew P. Normand

First Committee Member

Carolynn Kohn

Second Committee Member

Raymond Miltenberger


With many U.S. adults being diagnosed with or at high risk for largely preventable chronic diseases, positive health behavior change is a critical public health concern. Behaviors such as physical activity, healthy eating, substance use (e.g., alcohol, nicotine) have all been linked to risk of various chronic diseases and long-term health outcomes. Health coaching has emerged to fill the gap within the current healthcare system surrounding behavior change treatment. Many health coaching organizations and resources claim that the practice incorporates client-directive care. However, further research is warranted for determining what skills are necessary for health coaching clients to successfully work within this client-centered approach, and how to train deficits in these skills. Goal setting is a main component of health coaching, and according to most health coaching training programs and certifications, is at least partially determined by the client. The SMART goal setting method is one of the most widely used goal setting strategies in both health care and across industries.The current study used a multiple baseline across participants design to evaluate a behavior analytic training method, behavioral skills training (BST), to train individuals to set health-related SMART goals using a contrived multiple exemplar approach. Participant attempts at goal setting were scored across probes during baseline, training, and post-training. All participants’ scores significantly improved after receiving training on setting SMART goals and participants positively rated the acceptability of the training on average. The results suggest that incorporating at least one 1.25-hr BST session in addition to providing written materials on setting SMART goals may significantly improve health coaching clients’ ability to set effective health goals. More research is needed to replicate these findings across various demographic populations and settings, and determine whether increased skill in setting health-related goals leads to greater health behavior change during intervention.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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