LSU prof co-authors health book that helps changes stick

La Sierra Psychology Professor Leslie Martin.
La Sierra Psychology Professor Leslie Martin.

Jan. 28, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( They pored over thousands of articles, medical journals and psychiatric literature spanning 50 years. And in the end the three professors knew they had sifted something of significant value from all their research – sound, practical guidance for physicians, psychologists, nurses and other care providers on how to help their clients make permanent, healthy changes in their lifestyles.

This month, Oxford University Press published “Health Behavior Change and Treatment Adherence; Evidence-based Guidelines for Improving Healthcare.” The 224-page tome advocates a three-pronged model of information, motivation and strategy for helping individuals put long-term, health-related behavioral changes into practice, whether such changes are prescribed by care providers or desired for overall prevention and health maintenance.

The book’s guidelines not only help patients stick to their medical prescriptions, but aid millions of people who make failed resolutions to lose weight, exercise, change eating habits and implement other healthy behaviors.

Leslie Martin, psychology professor at La Sierra University, Kelly Haskard-Zolnierek, assistant professor of psychology at Texas State University and M. Robin DiMatteo, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside co-authored the book which currently sells on for $23.96.

The book’s practical guidelines, bolstered with engaging anecdotes and examples, base lifestyle and behavioral change upon three main criteria: the individual must know what change is necessary; must desire the change; and then must have the tools to achieve and maintain the change.

The research the authors plumbed for data includes their own papers on the topic of patient adherence. Their comprehensive work ultimately addresses a serious health and economic matter plaguing today’s health care system. For instance, hospitalization cost estimates due to medication non-adherence reached $13.35 billion annually in the United States, according to a study published in 2005 by Martin, DiMatteo, Haskard-Zolnierek and Summer L. Williams. Research indicates that as many as 40% of patients fail to follow treatment plans, depending on conditions and regimen complexity, the study says.

“…We recognized that the kind of book we felt needed to be out there wasn’t out there,” said Martin who has researched the subject area for about a decade. “…We had recognized a need for this for a long time.”

The new book’s proposed model for implementing behavioral change is simple to follow. The book is easy to read, but well-grounded in scientific literature, Martin said.

Martin and Haskard-Zolnierek are former graduate students of DiMatteo’s. “We’d talked for a long time about doing a book,” said Martin. It took the trio of professors about a year to complete the project.

UC Riverside plans to use the book as a text for a class titled “Health Behavior Change” and the authors hope medical schools and universities will incorporate the book into their classes.

“I believe this book is extremely important in helping health professionals to assist their patients in making changes in their health behaviors,” DiMatteo said. “So much attention these days is paid to high-tech treatments and miracle cures, but most of the time, good treatment outcomes depend upon adhering to prescriptions and health behavior recommendations.  The psychology of behavior change is central to the delivery of health care.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  February 01, 2010