The Health Belief Model is a theoretical framework for understanding health behavior. But what is a theory? A theory is a set of concepts, definitions and propositions that project a systematic view of phenomena (in this case health behavior) by designing specific interrelationships among concepts for the purposes of describing, explaining and predicting (Noar and Zimmerman, 2005). The purpose of a theory is to guide research, enhance science by supporting existing knowledge or generating new knowledge, and guide practice and education. For years scientists have tested numerous theories for health promotion, prevention, and treatment.
The HBM is used to motivate people to take more positive actions in regards to their health in order to avoid negative health consequences. An example of this is the spread of STDs/STIs (the negative health consequence). The desire to not contract these diseases and infections can motivate people who are sexually active to use condoms (the positive action) in order to prevent the spread of STDs/STIs and promote safe sex, not only for themselves but for those around them. Likewise, the threat of cardiovascular disease can be used to motivate people to eat healthier and exercise more (Noar and Zimmerman, 2005).
There are six constructs the Health Belief Model and those constructs are as followed:
- Perceived Susceptibility – how likely do you think you are to have this health issue?
- Perceived Severity – how serious of a problem do you believe this health issue is?
- Perceived Benefits – how well will the recommended behavior reduce the risk(s) associated with this health issue?
- Perceived Barriers – what are the potential negative aspects of doing the recommended behavior?
- Cues to Action – factors which cause you to change or want to change
- Self-Efficacy – one’s belief that they can successfully make the behavior change