The health belief model (HBM) and the transtheoretical model (TTM) are two approaches to explaining the health behavior of an individual and predicting the possible changes in it. It is worth noting that the notion of a model is not synonymic to theory but presupposes the possibility of applying, in parallel or successively, several theories that apparently are the most suitable. The difference between the two models lies in the ways in which they see the role of the patient’s will in behavioral changes.
According to the HBM, the probability that a person will adopt the recommended health behavior correlates with his or her belief in its effectiveness. Another determinant is the belief in the threat of the disease, which the behavior can help prevent or overcome (“The Health Belief Model”, 2019). For instance, an individual who does not believe in the high mortality of infection and/or the possibility of a vaccine to stimulate the immune system appropriately will be skeptical about vaccination.
The TTM, to the contrary, regards the change in behavior, primarily habitual, as a continuous cycle, which means that shifts are natural but apparently cannot be immediate. The cycle has several stages that make a circle, and it takes time to proceed from one to another (“The Transtheoretical Model”, 2019). In correspondence with this model, a person who currently is not willing to be immunized is probable to change his or her view in a certain period on the condition of proper education.
The HBM derives from behavioral psychology, or behaviorism, one of the key postulates of which holds that human beings learn to maximize rewards and minimize punishments. Within the model, this assumption gave birth to such constructs as perceived severity and perceived benefits. The former describes a person’s views of the threat that contracting or not treating a disease bears, while the latter illustrates his or her opinion about the effectiveness of recommended measures (“The Health Belief Model”, 2019). The risk of becoming ill, as well as the obstacles to taking the necessary measures, are other parameters to consider, which the model defines as perceived susceptibility and perceived barriers, respectively. The final health decision subsequently is a synthesis of four factors.
By contrast, the TTM sees decision-making as a process that comprises the following stages. In precontemplation, a person does not intend to take the recommended action “in the foreseeable future,” which means within six months (“The Transtheoretical Model”, 2019). A possible reason for this is the unawareness of how problematic his or her behavior is. Education can solve this and launch the phases of contemplation and preparation, where an individual is ready to take action within 6 months and 30 days, respectively. The change itself happens at the following stage and ideally is followed by maintenance that involves forming and preserving a new health habit. Various behavioral theories are applicable to various phases, which is actually the reason why the model has its name.
To summarize, the health belief model is a view of the change in health habits that sees a decision as the result of assessing the risks and benefits of taking or not taking the recommended actions. This approach apparently is based on behavioral psychology, which assumes that people learn to avoid punishments and maximize rewards. Meanwhile, decision-making in the transtheroretical model is a process that consists of several stages, each of which can use the most relevant behavioral theories.
LaMorte, W. W. (2019). The health belief model. Behavioral Change Models. Web.
LaMorte, W. W. (2019). The transtheoretical model (stages of change). Behavioral Change Models. Web.