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Health Belief Model 

What should I know about the health belief model?

The health belief model states that whether or not people take action to support their health depends on the following factors1:

  • Perceived susceptibility to consequences of inaction (Will there be negative consequences if I don’t act?)
  • Perceived severity of consequences of inaction (How bad are the negative consequences if I don’t act?)
  • Perceived benefits of action (What are the benefits of me taking action?)
  • Perceived barriers to action (What barriers stand in the way of me taking action?)
  • Cues to action (Do I have people or environmental supports encouraging me to take action?)
  • Self-efficacy (Do I have the skills and confidence I need to take action?)

At the end of the day, people only change when the consequences of inaction are unacceptable.

How does the health belief model show up in our work?

The health belief model comes in handy when we are designing persuasive messaging. It helps us figure out what an audience needs to hear in order to adopt healthy behaviors. When we are conducting interviews and focus groups, we generally look for answers to the following questions:

  • To what extent do the audience members believe they are susceptible to a particular risk?
  • To what extent do the audience members believe that the consequences of inaction are severe?
  • To what extent do the audience members believe there are benefits to taking action?
  • To what extent do the audience members believe there are barriers standing in the way of taking action?
  • To what extent do the audience members have any cues to remind them to take action?
  • To what extent do the audience members have the self-efficacy required to take action?

How can I learn more about the health belief model?

Click here or watch the video below to learn more.

Works Cited and Works Consulted

  1. Social and behavioral theories: important theories and their key constructs. e-Source Behavior and Social Sciences Research website. http://www.esourceresearch.org/Default.aspx?TabId=731. Accessed July 1, 2016.
  2. Hayden J. Health belief model. In: Hayden J, ed. Introduction to Health Behavior Theory. Jones and Bartlett Publishers LLC: Sudbury, MA; 2009:31-44. http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763743836/chapter 4.pdf. Accessed July 1, 2016.
  3. Ross H. Applying the health belief model [video]. November 9, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekNimvMbEaA. Accessed July 1, 2016.