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Health coaching

Health coaching is a way of helping people gain the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence they need to take an active part in their own health care. It helps them reach the health goals they want to achieve.

On this page:


Key points​

  • Health coaching is useful if you are working with someone who has ongoing health issues or complex health needs.

  • Its goal is to improve their long-term outcomes.

  • It can include whānau members, so they can also support your client in achieving their health goals.

  • Read about training to become a health coach.

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Health coaching

Health coaching is a set of skills, attitudes and attributes that all health care staff can use to support people to self-manage. These skills include:

Health coaches

The health coach role is a specific role in healthcare that is relatively new in New Zealand. Health coaches work alongside doctors and nurses and take on mainly non-clinical tasks (particularly with people with long-term conditions) so doctors and nurses can focus on clinical tasks. 

Health coaches have 5 main roles:

  1. supports person to manage their own health​

  2. acts as a link between the person and their doctor and nurse

  3. helps the person to navigate the healthcare system

  4. provides emotional support to the person

  5. is the go-to contact for the person if they have questions or need information.

Health coaches have a big role to play in supporting people to change their behaviour and improve their health.

Health coaches:

  • reduce costs for people with long-term conditions and reduce the amount of time people spend at health appointments

  • help people feel more satisfied that they are getting more personalised care

  • help people feel more confident about what they are doing rather than being told what to do by their health professional.

Health coaching in New Zealand

In New Zealand health coaches could be called:

  • health navigators

  • Kaiawhina or Kaiarahi

  • community health workers

  • whanau ora workers.




  1. Bennett HD, Coleman EA, Parry C, Bodenheimer T, Chen EH. Health coaching for patients with chronic illness Family Practice Management. 2010 Sept/Oct:24–29.

  2. Main J, Anstis O, O’Brien J. Transform patient outcomes through patient journey mapping Ko Awatea. 2016 August; 492. 

  3. Bodenheimer T, Lorig K, Holman H, Grumbach K. Patient self-management of chronic disease in primary care JAMA, 2002;288(19):2469–2475. 

  4. The Care Transitions Program

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