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How Changing Mindsets Can Change Health Outcomes

A new analysis from Omada Insights Lab shows that changing patients’ mindsets is a critical factor in improving behavior and health outcomes in diabetes prevention

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A new analysis from Omada Insights Lab

Shows that changing patients’ mindsets is a critical factor in improving behavior and health outcomes in diabetes prevention

Mind over matter” is a popular mantra signifying the power of resilience, but mental constructs can potentially make all the difference when it comes to physical health, too.

Psychologists have been studying mindsets—a person’s core beliefs about the world, themselves and their own abilities—since the 1980s. But it was Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck who brought the concept into the mainstream with her 2006 book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” The New York Times best-seller upended long-standing assumptions about IQ tests.

Dweck’s clinical research found that students’ core beliefs about whether their intelligence was “fixed” or could grow was a better indicator of their potential for educational achievement than IQ scores. Thanks to that research (highlighted in her TED Talk), mindsets have become an influential strategy for helping low-achieving students overcome negative preconceptions and achieve success in school.

For the past decade, Dr. Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist and principal investigator at the Stanford University Mind & Body Lab, has been following Dweck’s lead with research into mindset change as it relates to health. For example, her lab’s work explores the role of mindsets about illness and of maintaining good health in shaping behaviors and health outcomes.

Nearly 1.5 million
Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year.

In 2021, Dr. Crum and her Ph.D. student, Sean Zion, teamed with Omada Insights Lab to investigate whether Omada Health’s virtual diabetes prevention program could change participants’ mindsets and lead to improving health outcomes. According to their findings, the answer is yes—pointing the way not only toward more effective diabetes prevention but better prevention measures across healthcare.

"We didn’t go into this with the hypothesis that Omada’s program would necessarily change mindsets,” Crum says. “The fact that we found that Omada was already changing mindsets for the better and not for worse was exciting, because there is evidence to suggest that many well-intentioned health promotion programs actually have the opposite effect.

- Zhou Yang, Ph.D., Omada Health’s Principal Health Economist

Crum and Omada Insights Lab’s work suggests not only that mindset change can lead to better diabetes prevention, but that mindset change can be achieved in as little as three weeks.

Mindset change can be linked to health outcomes in a short timeframe, according to Ryan Quan, director of data science at Omada Insights Lab. “Mindset change at week three strongly correlates with positive changes in health as early as week six,” he reveals.

Dr. Crum’s work has shown that people are capable of changing their deep-rooted beliefs about their health. Download the full white paper to learn more.