My essay in The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine is a letter to my deceased father.
I ask my dear father, “Rascal Haskell” about his unhealthy behaviors, posing the question “Was it Worth It?” He took much pleasure in cooking unhealthy meals, worked very long hours, and ignored his cardiologist’s advice. While Rascal didn’t know about his tragic fate of dying at the young age of 47, he did have a great understanding of mathematical odds. He knew he was taking health risks.
As health practitioners, we must address this question with our target populations: Is making healthy lifestyle changes worth it? Oftentimes, the impetus for health change is escalating health costs for the individual and/or for the payer organization. While opportunities exist for health cost savings—an extrinsic motivator—also learning about the intrinsic desires, or lack thereof, for individual health improvement is crucial for health program and participation decisions.