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The Health Belief Model Simplified

Author J. Davis. Published on May 21, 2011 - 3:27 am (9044 views — 340 words)

The Health Belief Model (HBM) is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors. This is done by focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of individuals. It is a health behavior change and psychological model developed by Irwin M. Rosenstock in 1966 for studying and promoting the uptake of health services.

The Health Belief Model is based on the understanding that a person will take a health-related action if that person feels that a negative health condition can be avoided by taking action, has a positive expectation that by taking a recommended action they will avoid a negative health condition and if the person believes that they can successfully take a recommended health action easily.

In other words if a person believes Sexually Transmitted Diseases for example can be avoided by using condoms, the person believes condoms are the key to avoiding Sexually Transmitted Diseases and believes that heshe can obtain and use condoms easily and comfortably the person will be more likely to use condoms.

Or if a person believes they can avoid Osteoporosis by taking calcium supplements and believes calcium supplements are easy to take, the person is more likely to take calcium supplements to avoid Osteoporosis.

The Health Belief Model has been applied to a broad range of health behaviors and subject populations.

Three broad areas can be identified

1) Clinic use, which includes physician visits for a variety of reasons

2) Sick role behaviors, which refer to compliance with recommended medical regimens, usually following professional diagnosis of illness.

3) Preventive health behaviors, which include health-promoting (e.g. diet, exercise) and health-risk (e.g. smoking) behaviors as well as vaccination and contraceptive practices.

The health belief model continued to be the most frequently applied model in published descriptions of programs and studies in health education and health behavior in the early 1990s. It has since been displaced in frequency of application by the transtheoretical model of stages of change. It remains, however, a valuable guide to practitioners in planning the communication component of health education programs.