Social and Behavioral Theory in Public Health

According to the Health Belief Model (HBM), what is the Decision-Making Process that a Person goes Through before Taking a Health-Related Action?

The Health Belief Model (herein referred to as HBM) is used to explain the behavior of patients with regard to accepting or rejecting preventive healthcare or adopting healthy behaviors. The model was developed by social psychologists to predict the likelihood of a person to take health-related actions and to comprehend their decision making process and motivation with regard to seeking healthcare. According to HBM, there are four change conditions that determine the decision-making process of persons with respect to disease prevention and health promotion messages. The four are:

  1. The belief that one is at risk of developing a certain condition.
  2. The belief that the risk is serious and the culminating consequences are not desirable.
  3. The belief that changing certain behavior results in reduced risks.
  4. The belief that the individual can overcome and manage the barriers preventing them from changing the specific behavior.

The first condition implies that if a person does not identify a certain behavior as risky, then they are not stimulated to take action. The risk is either perceived susceptibility or perceived severity. The first form of threat involves the amount of risk that a person believes in accompanies a given behavior. The second form of threat addresses the seriousness of the consequences of such a risk. To change an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one, a person must believe in both threats.

In addition, one must believe in the benefit of the new behavior for effective change to take place. They must realize that the associated barriers are not as important as the benefits of change. According to the HBM model, one must believe that it is possible to garner the energy needed to overcome the barriers of change. However, change barriers are immediate while health benefits are only realized in the long term.

How Would you Use the Transtheoretical Model to Move a Person from the Pre-contemplation Stage to the Action Stage using the Goal “30 Minutes of Aerobic Exercise 5 Days a Week – 30 Minutes or Longer”?

During the pre-contemplation stage, the person is not aware of their problem. They do not see the need for change. However, they tend to speak to someone else about the need to change. Therefore, I will take the time to inform them of the benefits of exercising. For instance, I will let them know that in addition to improving one’s quality of life, exercises are very interesting.

Afterward, they will start thinking of how a lack of exercise will affect them as a person. The contemplation stage can last for a very long time. As a result, I will reduce the time spent on instructions and increase the time spent listening to them. I hope this will prove to them that they have what is needed to change. In addition, they will realize that change is not drastic or boring.

When I bring them to the point of preparing to change, I will provide the literature necessary for the transformation. If possible, I will provide such equipment as trendy sneakers and accompanying music CDs. When they finally decide to take action, I will draw a time table for them and place it at a suitable location. I will encourage them to begin with fifteen minutes for the first week and increase to twenty and thirty minutes in subsequent weeks. In the fifth week, I will challenge them to maintain the thirty minutes of aerobics in the long term.