TABLE C-1 Selected Theoretical Models Describing Health Behavior, Food Choice, and Behavior Change


Brief Description

Health Belief Model (Rosenstock, 1974)

Assumes individuals will protect their health if they think they are susceptible to the threat, believe that if they change behaviors they can reduce the threat (with benefits outweighing barriers), and that they are able to make the change.

Life Course Perspective (Wethington, 2005)

Key concepts:

  • trajectories (stable patterns of behavior over time);

  • transitions (changes in social responsibilies and roles);

  • turning points (major life events);

  • cultural and contextual influences (environmental events that shape and constrain change and adaptation);

  • timing in lives (interaction between the timing of the event and the age/stage of the life course);

  • linked lives (dependence of one person on another); and

  • adaptive strategies (conscious decisions)

Optimistic Bias (Shepard, 1999) (Weinstein, 1987)

Underestimation of the risk to oneself relative to others.

PEN-3 (Airhihenbuwa, 1995)

Consists of three interrelated and interdependent dimensions of health: health education diagnosis (identification of the target audience); education diagnosis of health behavior (exploration of target audience’s supporting factors and beliefs); and cultural appropriateness of the health behavior (both positive and negative).

Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) (Prochaska, 1995) (Prochaska and Vellicer, 1997) (Weinstein et al., 1998)

Integrates a variety of theories (transtheoretical) to both describe progression of changes and to explain associated behaviors necessary to achieve change. Stages include:

  • Precontemplation (time when an individual is not considering or not aware that change is needed);

  • Contemplation (time when an individual is aware of a problem and is considering action to resolve it);

  • Preparation (time when an individual commits to taking action);

  • Action (time when effort is noted);

  • Maintenance (time when a person tries to stabilize the change);

  • Termination (time when no temptation to revert back to old behavior).

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