Theories of Health Behavior

Health-related behavior plays a significant role in maintaining people’s health and their general well-being. It is essential as it helps in curing and preventing any prevailing disease or symptom. In most cases, in order to be successful in providing tuberculosis screening program or even encouraging the use of condoms with the view of preventing HIV/AIDS infection, the practitioners have to persuade people to adapt healthy behaviors towards these initiatives. In trying to exploit why people tend not to inhibit healthy behaviors towards recommended health-related action, social psychologists have developed Health Belief Model. Thus, the main objective of this paper is to discuss the utility of this model for describing health, changing behavior or treating illness.

According to Denison (2006), Health Belief Model (HBM) is normally a psychological model that tries to explain individual’s health behaviors, especially by focusing on his or her beliefs. He notes that this theory was first developed in 1950s by social psychologists Hochbaum, Kegels and Rosenstock of the U.S Public Health Service department. It was developed in order to explain why there was lack of public participation in health screening and prevention programs. Since then, this theory has been incorporated in exploring both the short- and long-term aspects of individual’s health behaviors. Thus, this paper discusses the utility of this model for describing health, changing behavior or treating illness.

As pointed out by Taylor, Bury & Campling (2007), Health Belief Model (HBM) gives a clear understanding of why an individual may take any health-related action. Additionally, they note that HBM indicates the comfort and confidentiality, with which an individual can successfully take a recommended health-related action. According to them, HBM exploits these by spelling out four perceived threats and benefits of an individual’s health-related action. These threats include perceived susceptibility to the disease approach, perceived severity of the illness condition, perceived benefits, and perceived cost barriers. These concepts hold that the individual’s readiness to act may largely depend on the need to avert his or her health behavior towards relevant health education or sickness of close relative.

Additionally, Harvey & Lawson (2008) note that HBM incorporates an additional concept of self-efficacy, which better addresses the challenges experienced whenever an individual is changing habitual unhealthy behaviors. The model can thus successfully instill confidence in an individual, enabling him/her to perform a health-related action. Consequently, it is essential in describing health, changing health behaviors or even treating illness. For instance, self-care behavior is basic in the management of diabetes. Harvey & Lawson (2008) note that healthcare professionals normally advice diabetic patients to carry out self-care behaviors such as dietary change and regular self- medication. Therefore, this not only helps in managing the illness, but also in describing an individual’s health condition.

In conclusion, there is a need to actively engage the Health Belief Model in healthcare in order to influence individual’s perception towards recommended health-related action. Moreover, effective adoption of HBM can result into successful description of health, changing individual’s behavior, and treatment of illness.

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