A young man leaping over an inhaler and scattered pills

Doing Hard Things: Patient Motivation

I was recently surprised by a question that I was asked: “What motivates you as a patient?" It happened during a routine follow-up and I have to admit that for a moment I just sat there caught off guard by the question.

I had to ask for a bit of clarification, if this was concerning what I felt were my treatment goals, or if it was concerning taking medication. The Fellow then explained that it was a combination of all the above, but perhaps I could start with my goals. This led me to think of what motivates me to get to my goals.

Patient motivation

Lately, I have been focused on improved quality of life. I want to be the healthiest that I can be. One of my motivators would be doing everything that gets me to this goal. To break it down a bit more my list would be:

  • Be fully able to participate in physical activity in sport.
  • Take less medication overall.
  • Avoid the use of oral corticosteroids. I have been having some issues with my biological regimen and there has been some discussion about putting me back on low-dose oral corticosteroids, while we will give the current regimen a bit more time.
  • Avoid any further comorbidities.

The Fellow mentioned that addressing patient motivation was key to addressing their asthma concerns. They also mentioned that tackling the large array of complexities that people with asthma face can be challenging, however, working with the patient on their motivation is a deal to addressing their goals.

My motivation as a person with asthma

Patients have a key role in their motivation. I was so grateful to have this frank discussion with the Fellow. This had me thinking more about the role that I play in managing my asthma and my motivation. Essentially, I want to feel as well as possible, but some things are really hard to manage or stay motivated through.

I wish there was a better understanding of why patients lose motivation and perhaps show they can be encouraged to get back on track. I know that I have felt challenged when side effects creep out, or if I am not feeling like myself.

For example, I was having a particular side effect from my biologics and it was just wearing me down. It was eye dermatitis that was taking a long time to resolve. I had to change the topical steroids that I was using to resolve it, but it had me thinking if I wanted to continue down this path.

Staying healthy allows me to be physically active and do all the things that I want to do, but at what cost? This is a thought or doubt that I find creeps in and has me thinking, "What is the point of being a good compliant patient if there are things that creep up that I cannot seem to shake?"

The reality is that life happens and it happens to patients with asthma. When these thoughts creep in, I just need to take a break and reset my motivation. Sometimes this means that I may need to throw myself a very limited pity party, reset my mind, reconnect with my personal goals for asthma control and management, and shake off those thoughts. It also helps to share these thoughts and concerns with your care team so they can provide suggestions and have a better understanding of what you are going through.

Will you share your experience?

I would love to hear about your experience in keeping yourself motivated in your asthma journey. What have you found works best for you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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