Dr. Marina Abdel Malak

is a Family Medicine Resident at the University of Toronto. She graduated and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and went on to study Medicine. She has a passion for medical education, patient empowerment, and increasing awareness about the relationship between mental, emotional, and physical health.


Abstract:Empowering patients to set health-directed goals can be a challenging process. The skilled clinician successfully supports patients in setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-related). When goals are made in collaboration with patients, they are more likely to be long-lasting and impactful. This article will focus on how physicians can work with patients to identify, create, and work towards meaningful interventions that optimize health.
Key Words: motivation, behaviour changes, counselling, goals, treatment.

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

You can take quizzes without subscribing; however, your results will not be stored. Subscribers will have access to their quiz results for future reference.

Goal-setting should be a partnership between physicians and patients
Asking patients what THEY want—and can—change in their lives/health is the first step to eliciting what behaviours can be targeted
After goals are set, it is important for physicians to reassess patients' progress by asking them if goals were met, and why or why not. When success occurs, patients should be congratulated on their achievements. If the goals were not met, physicians should seek to understand why this occurred, and work with patients to create new goals that are more realistic or achievable
Physicians should motivate patients to set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-related)
Patients are more likely to adhere to behaviours, habits, or interventions if they feel understood, supported, and empowered
Supporting patients in achieving goals that optimize health can have significant impacts on patient wellness, self-esteem, functioning; and strengthens the physician-patient relationship
To have access to full article that these tools were developed for, please subscribe. The cost to subscribe is $80 USD per year and you will gain full access to all the premium content on, an educational portal, that hosts 1000s of clinical reviews, case studies, educational visual aids and more as well as within the mobile app.
Disclaimer at the end of each page