Behavioral Psychology: The Health Belief Model

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Health Belief Model
The health belief model in behavioural psychology is termed as an ‘expectancy-value’ model. It means that the model assumes that an individual takes an action based on their evaluation of the most likely outcome of engaging in a new or of changing existing behaviour. The model is very popular and has proven its durability in the field of health education. It details the complex relationship between motivation, health behaviour and outcome.
Development of the Model
Hochbaum originally developed this model based on interviews he conducted during the 1950s. During this period, tuberculosis was considered to be an important health problem but not everyone was going in for a chest x-ray. Through his interviews with such people, Hochbaum developed a model that tried to predict the chances or likelihood of an individual taking up a recommended course of preventive action to safeguard his health. The model went into the motivation and decision making process that influenced a person’s choice of seeking medical intervention.
Health Belief Model
It is a framework that helps indicate whether a person will adopt or not a recommended health behaviour. According to the model, an individual’s decision to engage in a health behaviour is based on his perceptions. Therefore, by changing his perception, one can get him to adopt a new behaviour.
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Cues to Action: These are signals that prompt one to take the initiative to treat illness. These can range from being exposed to health reports and messages in the mass media to watching a friend or relative suffer from the disease, reading a health pamphlet or even the onset of symptoms in one’s body.
The model therefore says that an individual is more likely to seek treatment if he thinks he is prone to a disease that has severe consequences. For the individual to make the decision, though, his evaluation of whether the benefits of taking up treatment will outweigh the difficulties he will face in the process is crucial.
In addition to the six factors that influence the making of a health care decision, various demographic factors like age, sex, race, social class, education, employment status, knowledge and experience play a role in how a person perceives the urgency of taking proper action to deal with his health condition.
Failure to Change Behaviours
The top reasons for failure to change lifestyle behaviour are perceived susceptibility and barriers to change. A person who feels that he is highly vulnerable of being afflicted is more likely to pay attention to any health message. But barriers like social pressure may stop change from happening even if a person is highly
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