print header

BHC tool


The BHC approach uses the 5 A’s – Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange, regardless of the type of health behaviour change the client might attempt.


BHC starts with a few tactful questions.

PHAC videos

ASK: Begin the client intervention:

Goal: To mutually identify with the client a behavior or issue that might warrant change. Through your knowledge of the client, this may be evident.

Open with a question to begin the dialogue.

  • Ask: How often do you drink alcoholic beverages?
  • Ask: Have you compared your food intake with Canada’s Food Guide?
  • Ask: How do you stay physically active?
  • Ask: Have you used any tobacco products in the last six months?

Depending on the answer(s), ask follow-up questions:

  • On a typical day, how many drinks do you have? Have you felt that you should cut down?
  • Have you considered eating more fruits and vegetables each day?
  • Have you considered a more regular exercise program? What kind of activities do you enjoy?
  • Are you thinking about reducing your tobacco use or quitting in the next month?


ADVISE: Give your opinion 

Provide your insight as a health professional, based on what you identified.  Clients value and respect your opinion.

  • Advise: It is important to limit alcohol consumption, as it is linked to many chronic health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • Advise: It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet, as it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
  • Advise: Regular exercise will increase your energy levels and contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Advise: The most important thing that you can do for your health is to quit using tobacco. The benefits of quitting are immediate - within 20 minutes your oxygen levels increase and your blood pressure starts to normalize.


ASSESS: determine the clients’ phase of readiness

With the client’s responses, you should be able to deduce how ready the client is to change.

Goal: Try to nudge the client to the next stage of change

Stages of Change:

  • Pre-contemplation: awaken them to the issue
    • Contemplation: motivate them to make a workable plan
    • Preparation:  encourage them to engage their plan
    • Action:  affirm the decision and support resiliency
    • Maintenance:  provide ongoing support


ASSIST: provide some specific strategies for moving ahead.


  • Assist: Here is a pamphlet that outlines the low-risk drinking guidelines. 

Contemplation or Preparation 

  • Assist: There is a walking club here in town that uses the local trails. Here is contact information.
  • Assist: Health Connection can direct you to local tobacco cessation supports.  You can also call Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333.  


  • Assist: It’s good that we keep talking about the positive changes you’ve been making. Tell me what’s been working.  


  • Assist: We learn a lot in life from our challenges, and this is totally normal.  You’ll be better prepared to succeed the next time.  Let’s talk about a plan to try some different cessation aids.


ARRANGE: Follow-up with the client. The goal is continuity.
  • Arrange: When you come in next, I’ll see how you are doing
  • Arrange: They can contact you to set up an appointment or provide support
  • Arrange: Take this referral and contact them
  • Arrange: Let me know who you spoke to and how it went


overview stages of Change 5 A's Web Resources

Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...