The Role of Beliefs in Health-Related Behavior

The Role of Beliefs in Health-Related Behavior _ Netizen Me
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The Role of Beliefs in Health-Related Behavior _ Netizen Me

The Role of Beliefs in Health-Related Behavior

Various studies and case studies over the years have proven that behavioral factors and psychological consequences are directly associated with being ill. Longevity and health are correlated with health-related behaviors such as healthy eating, weight maintenance, not smoking, not drinking excessively, and engaging in regular exercise. (2) Health psychology research tries to understand, explain and predict health behaviors by studying health beliefs. Key beliefs about health behavior are attitude, beliefs about control, risk perception, and belief about confidence.

Belief models of exercise behavior

Exercise behavior is a health behavior that is related to the physical activity and movements a human body engages in. It is directly linked to health and illness. Poor exercise behavior can be a factor of multiple health conditions such as muscle and joint problems such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease. Recent studies of the most popular topics in the health and fitness domain show that bodyweight exercises have gained traction and attention among health and fitness enthusiasts worldwide. For example, in a global survey of the trending health and fitness topics, bodyweight exercise has consistently featured in the top four positions of the fitness trend chart in the last 3 years (1)

This behavior can be applied to models of health beliefs to study and explain further. The health belief model (HBM) and Cognition models will be discussed here. There are several exercise studies using the HBM around the world where positive outcomes have been found.

  • In a study done with a sample of 98 Jordanian myocardial infarction patients, with a mean age of 50 years (SD = 12.15), and 58% males, it was found that health motivation and perceived barriers had statistically significant correlations with exercise participation.
  • A study with a sample of 132 Hong Kong adults, with a mean age of 49.3 years (SD = 9.46), and 59.8% female, found a statistically significant standardized beta, in a multiple regression analysis, between exercise and perceived barriers.
  • In a different study with a sample of 57 participants from New York with a mean age of 56 years (SD = 10.4) and 72% males, the HBM accounted for 29% of the variance of exercise attendance, and three HBM factors were associated with exercise attendance: perceived severity of coronary heart disease, perceived benefits of exercise, and special health practices. (3)

The protection motivation theory and the health belief model

Two other models, protection motivation theory and the health belief model, have guided much research on the role of social-cognitive factors in other health behaviors. These models are comprised largely of the same basic set of social cognitive variables: self-efficacy expectancy, outcome expectancy, outcome value, and intention.

Two other factors, situational cues, and habits, although not common to all the models, round out the theoretical picture by explaining how the relationship between the major social cognitive variables and behavior may change with the repeated performance of behavior over time. Integration of these models is offered using the theory of planned behavior as a foundation.

It is suggested that research on health and exercise behavior that pits one model against another to determine which one is the better predictor of behavior is likely to be unproductive due to the striking similarities of the models. It is suggested instead that theorists and researchers focus their efforts on the integration of the major social cognitive models and on determining the relative predictive utility of the various social cognitive factors with various health behaviors and in various contexts. (4)

Check the following reference articles to learn more about the role of beliefs in health-related behavior

  1. Thompson WR. Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016. ACSMs Health Fit J 2016; URL
  2. Ogden, J. (2017). The Psychology of Health and Illness: An open access course. URL
  3. Villar, O.A.ED., Montañez-Alvarado, P., Gutiérrez-Vega, M. et al. Factor Structure and Internal Reliability of an Exercise Health Belief Model Scale in a Mexican population. URL
  4. Maddux, J. (1993). Social cognitive models of health and exercise behavior: An introduction and review of conceptual issues. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. URL

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