Evaluation of The 3 Health Belief Theories

Evaluation of the 3 health belief theories: health belief model, health locus of control and self-efficacy.

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  • Created by: R
  • Created on: 02-01-13 16:19

The Health Belief Model

DETERMINISTIC - suggests that if we have these beliefs, this will cause us to adopt certain health behaviours or not. Neglects the idea of free will.

REDUCTIONIST - emphasises cognitive factors but doesn't consider personality variables.

INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES - doesn't take into account a person's individual experiences of illness and the influence of this.

COGNITIVE - takes account of a range of a person's thought processes when they are deciding whether or not to adopt a health behaviour.

SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH EVIDENCE - Becker et al found that mothers who believed that their child was susceptible to asthma attacks were more likely to comply with a medical regimem of giving medication. This suggests that the HBM is valid as the health beliefs do predict health behaviours. It is also useful, since it is not just a theoretical model but a practical way of explaning why people behave the way they do.

More supporting evidence - in Australia where letters were sent to parents to remind them to get their children immunised against measles. HBM letter - 79% of parents complied. Standard letter - 67% of parents complied.

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Health Locus of Control

REDUCTIONISNT - reduces the explanation for health behaviours to the level of each individual's l.o.c, rather than taking other factors into account. Unlike health belief model, it doesn't take demographic variables into account.

DETERMINISTIC - according to this model: "my l.o.c will predict/determine my health behaviours". Ignores a person's free will.

SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH EVIDENCE - James et al (1965) found that male smokes with high internal l.o.c were more successful in giving up smoking permanently than those with a more external l.o.c. This suggests that the theory is a valid predictor of health behaviours.

However, the same piece of research found that this theory does not always predict health behaviours for everyone. The women in the study were more influenced by the thought of gaining weight if they gave up smoking than by their health l.o.c.

*** it's important to remember that health l.o.c is not fixed. A person's health l.o.c. can change over time from internal to external or vice versa, perhaps in response to life experience.

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BELIEF AND ACTION - a person's confidence in their ability to be successful at adopting a health behaviour really does influence whether or not they do so. So this theory links belief and action.

SUPPORTING RESEARCH EVIDENCE - Bandura and Adams found that those with high self-efficacy about their ability to deal with their snake phobia were better able to benefit from a course of systematic desensitisation. This suggests that the theory is valid.

SELF-EFFICACY & L.O.C - it is highly likely that there is a link between self-efficacy and l.o.c - a person with an internal health l.o.c may well also have a high level of self-efficacy when adopting a health behaviour.

However, self-efficacy goes further. Actually considers whether or not a person feels confident in their own ability to adopt a health behaviour.

REDUCTIONIST - reduces the explanation for whether or not a person adopts a heatlh behaviour to the level of this particular cognitive variable alone.

DETERMINISTIC - suggests that whether or not a person has high self-efficacy determines their likelihood of adopting a health behaviour. It ignores the fact that people have free will to decide as they choose.

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