The precaution adoption process model (PAPM) is a psychologically focused model that is most useful in describing how a person comes to a new decision, and how that person can take the decision and make it become an action. The concepts of the model were first discussed in 1988, with a formal accepted formulation of the model coming in 1992 (Weinstein and Sandman, 2002). The model is a seven-stage sequence that describes in entirety, being unaware to taking action, which is different from standard models where people are either acting or not acting; this model investigates behavior change as dynamic and changes occurring over time (Elliot, Seals and Jacobson, 2007).
There are seven stages of the PAPM, these stages start with a person being entirely unaware of some issue, or stage 1. If at some point the person becomes in any capacity aware of the issue, but still do not entertain the idea as an issue, they have entered stage 2. Once the person has engaged both awareness of the issue and entered decision making, the person has hit stage 3. From stage 3 the person can end in one of two ways, they decide not to take action on the issue, the person will end the PAPM and end at stage 4, unless they re-enter the decision-making process again. If after the decision-making process the person decides to accept the fact that there is an issue, then that person will enter stage 5. After acceptance of the issue, the person will then begin a new behavior which will put them in stage 6. Once the person has accepted the behavior and continued to maintain that behavior over time, they will be in maintenance, stage 7 (Weinstein and Sandman, 2002).
The PAPM works along with other models, because it in itself does not provide a specific set of variables that differentiate between stages, nor does it provide a way for progression to occur from stage to stage. The in-between point of the stages is moved forward along the PAPM by the individual’s own health beliefs, such as perceived susceptibility, severity, barriers, benefits, and self-efficacy. Because the model observes behavior adoption over time at the individual’s own development of behaviors, there is no specific amount of time one spends in each stage or can regress to each stage (Elliot, Seals and Jacobson, 2007).