Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior

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Health Belief Model (HBM)

Key constructs

The core construct of HBM is an alleged risk of a particular disease state, which includes the outcome of a supposed susceptibility to the sickness and its perceived severity. Further, the model puts more emphasis on decisional balance – the virtual weight of the alleged benefits, in comparison to the alleged barriers to indulging in certain behavior. Health behavior is an outcome of combined decisional balance over the expected results and the effect of the alleged threat.

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Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The key strength is that the model addresses cognitive theory by emphasizing the role of motivation and beliefs. Moreover, a person’s beliefs are disseminated into perceived susceptibility, severity, benefits, and barriers. In terms of limitations, HBM does not account for an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and other personal determinants that are responsible for dictating a person’s behavior.

Application in practice

The model is used in guiding health promotions and predicting individual health changes. It is applied in explaining and predicting personal changes in health behaviors and is, therefore, essential in the comprehension of health-related behaviors. Examples of application areas are nutrition, drug and alcohol use, and safety.

Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

Key constructs

The key concept underlining TRA is that intention and decision foretell a person’s behavior. If the behavior is evaluated as positive (attitude), then the intention (motivation) to perform it is very high. The intentions and attitudes are its key constructs, with the theory recognizing that some factors actually limit the effect of attitude on behavior.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The gestured limitation is that actual TRA can be used in any given context to determine and predict a person’s behavior. If the behavioral intention does not change, and the behavior is properly and clearly defined, the latter can be predicted. This implies that TRA can be used to predict any given behavior and this is its key strength.

Application in practice

TRA is used as a framework in the examination of specific behaviors including communication, health, and consumer behaviors. Most researchers use the model to study behaviors that are closely associated with danger, high risks, and deviant behavior. TRA is, therefore, vital in determining the underlying causes of certain behaviors and acting accordingly.

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Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)

Key constructs

TPB distinguishes control, behavioral, and normative beliefs, and its basic constructs characterize an individual’s capability to behave. The basic constructs include subjective norms, attitudes, social norms, perceived behavioral control, and perceived power. The theory measures the process and outcomes of the aforementioned variables in relation to an individual’s health.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

TPB has several limitations, including the assumption that an individual has attained the opportunities and resources to succeed in performing the preferred behavior regardless of the intention. In addition, it does not consider other variables, such as mood, fear, past experience, or threat, which cause behavioral motivation and intention. The strength of TPB lies in its success to predict and account for health behaviors associated with breastfeeding and smoking and alcohol consumption among others.

Application in practice

The main application of TPB is in the comprehension and prediction of behaviors related to health. It is utilized in measuring process and outcome variables linked to such actions as smoking and breastfeeding. It examines the actions and helps in predicting intention and behavior, although TPB is not commonly applied in the development of interventions. An illustration is the utilization of the theory in informing healthy eating behaviors.

Integrated Behavioral Model (IMB)

Key constructs

IBM’s emphasis is on the function of attitudes, which may affect a certain behavior including the perceived norms. Personal agency (self-efficacy), attitude, and perceived norms are the key constructs of this model. IBM appreciates that knowledge and skills are essential components of any decision-making process. The performed behavior must be salient to the person, i.e. should be at their thoughts.

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Gaps, strengths, and limitations

One major strength of IBM is its appreciation of knowledge and skills as key elements of decision-making process as it relates to attitude, perceived norms, and self-efficacy. The theory can only be used when considering the health behavior of one individual. In addition, it does not take into account other determinants which may influence a person’s behavior; for instance, race, education, and social status.

Application in practice

The model is commonly applied in health centers to help in understanding and predicting condom use. Populations covered include drug users, multipartnered heterosexuals, commercial sex workers, and gay partners. As social norm and attitude are predictors of behavior, the model has been successful in its use to predict and comprehend condom use.

Transtheoretical Model (TTM) and Stages of Change

Key constructs

TTM is made up of five major constructs which informs its hypothesis and approach, and are as follows. Pre-contemplation is a stage whereby individuals never have an intention of taking the foreseeable future into action whereas in the contemplation phase, persons purpose to initiate the behavior later. In the preparation stage, people become ready to take action within a month. The action stage is whereby individuals have changed their behaviors recently while in the maintenance stage, the behavior change is sustained for a while and is intended to be maintained in future.

Gaps, strengths, and limitation

Giving individuals a chance to change behavior on their own is a key strength of the model. The gestured limitation is that the social context where the change takes place is ignored and the time needed for each stage is not clear. It also assumes that logical and coherent plans are made. In addition, the determination of a person’s stage is not clearly brought out. The model helps in assessing whether an individual is ready to change behavior.

Application in practice

TTM is applied in the understanding behaviors, such as smoking and substance abuse. It was developed from studies which were carried out to examine the experience of cigarette smokers who chose to quit smoking on their own. The model later concluded that people quitted only when they were ready to do so, laying emphasis on the idea that habitual behavior is continuous.

Theories and Models of Interpersonal Health Behavior

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)

Key constructs

Reciprocal determinism, reinforcements, self-efficacy, behavioral capability, expectations, and observational learning are the key constructs of SCT. Specifically, SCT postulates that learning takes place within a social context characterized by reciprocal and dynamic interaction. It puts more emphasis on social influence including the internal and external reinforcements.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The unique ways in which a person acquires and maintains behavior is considered, and this forms a key strength of the theory. Concerning limitation, SCT assumes that any change in environment automatically changes the behavior of an individual. It is solely based on the interplay between the environment, behavior, and the person. Thus, it disregards hormonal predispositions and focuses only on the process of learning.

Application in practice

The theory is used widely in health promotion activities, where it offers opportunities for social support by inculcating self-efficacy, expectations, and the use of observational learning to modify behavior. Examples include healthy relationships program for persons living with HIV/AIDS by Chattanooga Care and HoMBReS community-based program for Latino men in local areas of the U.S. who face high risk of HIV infection.

Stress-Buffering Model

Key constructs

Counselling, taking appropriate measures and social support are the key constructs of stress-buffering model. The model serves as a social support, and is assumed to weaken/eliminate any prevailing negative relationship caused by chronic disease with detrimental effect on quality of life. The key focus of the model is to contain the depressive or stress outcomes of health issues, thus increasing recovery rate.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The model stresses that depressive symptoms decrease among individuals who receive high social support. However, social support at times may increase emotional and physical strain to depressive individuals thereby increasing their stress. To that end, stress-buffering model may fail in its role to avert stress among patients.

Application in practice

This model is widely used to offer support to smokers to help them quit smoking. It provides the required social support to smokers to help them quit and abstain from it. The model is also applicable to cancer patients, HIV/AIDS, and victims of rape among other patients who require social support to overcome depression.

Direct-Effect Model

Key constructs

Key constructs of direct-effect model include the following: the provision should be precise and clear, conditional and independent. The model hypothesizes that the causal effect of a defined action on a result is decided by various intermediate factors. The component causing the effect is not mediated by a transitional variable but is rather estimated. The direct effect can either be natural or controlled; the natural effect assumes sequential randomization.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The fact that the component causing the effect is not mediated by a transitional variable but rather estimated is a key strength of the model. The key limitation is that the model is subject to some conditions and can only apply where the conditions are completely met. The birth control pill, which is normally suspected to cause thrombosis in women is a classic example of this model. The pill has an indirect effect on thrombosis in the sense that it reduces the pregnancy rate.

Application in practice

Direct-effect model is applied in designing public and clinical health interventions aimed at improving quality of life. This is because of its relevance in mechanistic understanding of treatment causal effect which is not resolved by direct treatment effect. Through the approach, it is possible to determine an estimation of the extent to which birth control pill indirectly impacts thrombosis and culminates in reduced pregnancy rate.

Social Network Theory

Key constructs

Density, homogeneity, geographic dispersion, and directionality are the key constructs of the social network theory. The degree to which group members interact with each other is referred to as density, while the degree to which they are demographically similar is homogeneity. Their proximity is the geographical dispersion while the degree to which members share power and influence is the directionality.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The strength of social network theory is in its use to show how connected people are, providing insight into viral phenomenon and its usefulness in studying how groups relate. However, the theory cannot be replicated scientifically, and relationship interpretation is in most cases subjective. Until the theory becomes partly objective in its approach, the scientific depth of its application will remain contentious.

Application in practice

Social network theory is widely used in understanding employee turnover and unlocking webs which are associated with terrorist networks. In terms of health care, the theory is applied to appreciate how patients relate with their families, friends, and medical practitioners. Through the interaction, the patients are tipped to get better as the social network offers social support.

Transactional Model of Stress and Coping (TMSC)

Key constructs

TMSC explains coping as a phenomenon involving behavioral and cognitive responses used by people in managing external and internal stressors, which seem to surpass personal resources. It highlights that our stress experience is basically a system of adaptation, appraisal, and response. Understanding that stress may be caused by both secondary and primary appraisals, developing coping strategies and re-appraising form are the key constructs of this model.

Gaps, strengths, and limitations

The fact that this model focuses entirely on psychological determinants of the response to stress and emphasis on individual response to stress is a key strength. Another strength is that the model highlights various ways in which stress can be managed, thus allowing flexibility. However, some psychologists doubt that stress-related factors need to be appraised to promote patient care. Further, the model cannot be tested through experimental research due to its subjective nature; physiological perspectives are also overlooked in response to stressors.

Application in practice

TMSC is used to describe the responses of patients, especially those in critical care. Through the model, health care practitioners can evaluate threat, challenges, and harm a patient may be experiencing and adopt best ways to cope with stress. Hence, the model is highly promising as a means to address underlying psychological conditions and promote patient recovery.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 9). Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 9). Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior. https://psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/

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"Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior." PsychologyWriting, 9 July 2022, psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior'. 9 July.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior." July 9, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior." July 9, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Theories and Models of Individual Health Behavior." July 9, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/theories-and-models-of-individual-health-behavior/.