We will discuss some of the most widely used models and theories in health education and health promotion. A theory can be described as an arrangement of basic principles that provide a basis for explaining situations. The elements of a theory can be defined as a concept and once a concept has been developed, it can be referred to as a construct. Finally, a model is a subclass of a theory. Models draw on various theories to help understand a problem in a specific setting.
Theoretical frameworks can help the health educator organize thought and planning of a particular program. An understanding of theories and behavior change can result in a successful intervention or program. The health educator may also be guided to measure and assess programs with greater detail and skill if appropriately applying theoretical concepts.
Health behavior can often shape the success of a health promotion program. Individuals may be interested in changing a certain behavior but may not be ready to make the change. For example, family members may encourage an individual to enroll in a smoking cessation program or a weight loss program, but if individuals are not ready to make the change for themselves, the outcome of the program will most likely be a negative one. Having an understanding of health behavior is very important when planning, implementing, and evaluating programs.
We should first define theory and model. A theory can be described as an arrangement of basic principles that provide a basis for explaining situations. The elements of a theory can be defined as a concept and once a concept has been developed, it can be referred to as a construct. Finally, a model is a subclass of a theory (Glanz & Rimer, 1995). Models draw on various theories to help understand a problem in a specific setting. Throughout this section, we will discuss some of the most widely used models and theories in health education and health promotion.
Models of Individual Health Behavior
The Health Belief Model helps explain why people do or do not choose certain health services and involves the following six concepts: perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, motivation (cues to action), and self-efficacy. An example of this would be a man with a sick father (lung cancer due to years of smoking). The son also smokes and realizes that he is susceptible to lung cancer (perceived susceptibility) as well and watching his ailing father proves the severity of the addiction (perceived seriousness). He has tried to stop smoking but just can’t seem to do it (perceived barriers) but realizes that for the sake of his health (perceived benefits). He needs to make the decision to quit (motivation) and have the confidence that he will be able to (self-efficacy).
The Transtheoretical Model uses stages of change to describe the process that an individual can go through while trying to change his or her own health behavior. There are six stages of the Transtheoretical Model developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, 1983). The first stage is known as the precontemplation stage. This is defined as the period when an individual may or may not know they need to make a change in their behavior. They are not seriously thinking about changing their behavior anytime within the next six months. The second stage is known as the contemplation stage. Individuals in this stage intend to make a change and have taken some sort of action in the past year at trying to change.
The third stage of the Transtheoretical Model is the preparation stage. In this stage, the individual intends to take action within the next 30 days and has taken some behavioral steps in this direction. Maybe he or she has made a diet and exercise plan that they want to stick to. The fourth stage is the action stage. Behavior change has occurred in this stage but has lasted less than six months. The fifth stage