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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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Telephone Lifestyle Coaching FAQ

1. What is TLC?

Telephone Lifestyle Coaching (TLC) is a one-on-one, telephone health coaching program delivered by contract staff, located remotely, to Veterans who wish to make a health behavior change. TLC can also support Veterans currently enrolled in healthy living programming. Coaches engage Veterans in goal setting and action planning to improve their health and well-being. Consults to TLC are placed by the healthcare team. TLC coaches manage the consults and document all coaching activity in the electronic medical record.

2. What behaviors* are addressed with TLC?

Veterans receive coaching over 10 scheduled calls for:

  • Strive for a Healthy Weight*
  • Be Physically Active
  • Limit Alcohol
  • Manage Stress
  • *(~80% of TLC participants choose this behavior)

3. Who can participate in TLC?

Any Veteran who receives care at a site that offers TLC and discusses making a lifestyle change with their VA healthcare team, and also meets the following criteria:

  • Is at least 18 years of age
  • Is comfortable speaking and reading English
  • Has an Audit-C score of 7 or lower
  • Can engage actively in a lifestyle program that may include increasing physical activity from current levels
  • Consents to sharing information with VHA healthcare team
And does NOT currently have any of the following:
  • Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • BMI < 18.5
  • Stage 5 kidney disease or is on dialysis
  • End of Life/Hospice care

4. Who provides the coaching?

Experienced, extensively trained and supervised lifestyle coaches from an approved VA contractor, Optum Healthcare Coach Qualifications.

  • Education - Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a health-related field and 2 years’ experience in health behavior coaching that includes use of motivational interviewing,
    lifestyle change counseling, and problem-solving techniques. Many have additional certifications (i.e., Registered Dietitian, Certified Health Education Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer).
  • Initial Training - 240 hours, including coaching skills of Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; content instruction in nutrition, physical activity, weight management, limiting alcohol, and stress management; cultural sensitivity, Veteran-specific training, health literacy and numeracy, and co-morbid health conditions.
TLC Coach Supervision
  • Supervisors have a minimum of a Master’s degree in a health-related field and/or at least 5 years’ experience training and monitoring coaches.
  • Coaching calls are recorded, and supervisors randomly monitor calls each month to ensure fidelity to the protocol.
  • Minimum of twice monthly feedback to coaches on call quality and fidelity
  • Additional supervision is available and warm hand-off to National Veterans Crisis Line occurs as needed.

5. When are coaches available for calls?

Coaches are available from 7:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Thursday, 7:00am to 7:00pm Friday, and 8:00am to 4:30pm Saturday Central Time, except on federal holidays.

6. How are Veterans referred to TLC?

Any clinician a facility designates can refer via the TLC consult. It is best to complete the consult with the patient in order to identify the patient’s health behavior change area, preferred phone number and preferred time for initial coaching call.

7. Is there any cost for TLC services?

  • NO, there is no cost to the Veteran, facility, or VISN
  • TLC is being offered through Office of Rural Health funding, and targets, but is not limited to rural Veterans.

8. Where is there more information about TLC?

9. Where is TLC available?

TLC is currently available in select sites, with more being added. The current list of sites can be found at:

10. What are the initial steps for a facility to implement TLC?

  • Contact to express interest in TLC.
  • Identify a TLC site lead.
  • To successfully implement TLC, the support of Healthy Living Teams and approval from local facility leadership is required.
  • Assistance from a Clinical Applications Coordinator and HIMS/MAS to load templates and create clinic profiles will be needed.
    Detailed guidance for clinic profile set-up, as well as consult and note installation guide and templates are provided by NCP.

TLC Success Stories

  Benny's Success Story
  Roger's Success Story
  Samuel's Success Story
  Kim's Success Story
  Meet Coach Jane
  Vivian's Success Story

TLC Successes
Do you have a TLC Success Story to share? Tell your TLC coach and use this document to help tell your story.

Please complete the form linked here and bring to your healthcare team.

For instructions on how to access secure emails from your TLC Coach, click this link