The ‘Football on the Shelf Tip’ for Improving Medication Interest

Mar 07, 2017

“Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which
co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground.”

William James
Psychologist and philosopher

The ‘Football on the Shelf Tip’ for Improving Medication Interest

TISA Description of the Problem: With the Super Bowl just around the corner, this tip seems particularly well-timed. Patients often feel a bit uncomfortable with starting a new medication, especially psychotropic medications such as antidepressants. The following tip provided by Stephen Michael Cox, M.D. addresses this uncertainty with a new twist on behavioral modeling.

Tip: After having given a talk with Terry Bradshaw, the former Pittsburgh Steeler Football player and current television football analyst, he gave me a signed football, which I displayed on a shelf in my office. Little did I know, it would become a useful clinical tool. I found that with patients who were big football fans, it became a great conversational piece to pull off the shelf. As the patient was holding the football, I’d add something like, “You know, Terry Bradshaw is on an antidepressant (Paxil) just like the one you are starting up on.” I have been pleasantly surprised how often there is a sudden surge of increased interest in taking the medication by the patient.

TISA Follow-up: This tip is a trip! I can see it working very effectively. It suggests another idea. One could put together a nice binder that was filled with pictures of celebrities, heroic figures, rock stars, and other public personalities, who have benefited from medications. Then, depending upon the interests of the patient, one could pull the book out and say, “You know, you’ll never believe who else has taken this medication and swears by it.” At which point you open the book and show the patient the appropriate picture.

Tip provided by:

Stephen Michael Cox, M.D.
President and Medical Director
National Anxiety Foundation
Lexington, Kentucky