Health Belief Model

HBO Overview

The model was developed by social scientists at the U.S. Public Health Service in the early 1950s. It is widely used for understanding the health behavior. Precisely, the social scientist developed it in response to the failure of people to embrace screening tests and disease prevention strategies (Champion, & Skinner, 2008). The model is now used to explore health behaviors that include transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexual risk behaviors. Besides, the model is based on some assumptions. However, an individual will take a health-related action if that person: first, believes that the illness can be avoided. Second, has a positive expectation about the new behavior and he/she will avoid the illness. Third has a feeling of successfully taking the recommended action.

The important element of HBM is to avoid the adverse health consequence. Therefore, the model is a framework that is used to motivate individuals to take positive health actions. For example, a heart attack is a negative health consequence, and its threat can be used by doctors to motivate patients with high blood pressure into doing more exercises. Health Belief Model is based on six constructs, and they include the following. First, perceived susceptibility refers to a person’s belief of the risk of contracting the disease. The greater the perceived risk, the greater are the chances of engaging in a healthier behavior. According to Chen et al., (2007), perceived susceptibility motivates individuals to get vaccinated for influenza and also use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Second, perceived severity entails a person’s belief about the seriousness of the illness. When people evaluate the severity, they consider both the medical and social consequences. For example, people view flu as a minor ailment. In case a person gets it, he/she will stay at home and get better. However, if you are suffering from asthma and you contract the flu, and then you will end up in the hospital. In this scenario, a person will perceive flu as a serious disease.

Third, perceived benefits refer to the belief of a person in the effectiveness of the new behavior to reduce the risk of developing the illness. Therefore, people will embrace a healthier behavior when they believe that it will reduce their chances of contracting the disease (Champion, & Skinner, 2008). For example, people will quit smoking since they believe it is harmful to their health. Fourth, perceived barriers entail individual’s feelings on the obstacles to adopting a recommended new behavior or health action. People will tend to weigh whether the recommended action is dangerous, expensive, and time-consuming or convenient. Fifth, cue to action refers to the stimulus that moves an individual to change his/her behavior. The cues can be advice from people, newspaper article or chest pains. Sixth, self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in his/ her own ability to successfully perform something. Therefore, an individual will not embrace a new behavior unless he/she thinks he/she can do it.

The Health Belief Model is portrayed as a value expectancy theory in the following way. According to the theory, the behavior of an individual can be predicted based on certain issues that a person may consider such as perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits when trying to make decisions about their health behavior (Glanz, Rimer, & Viswanath, 2008). Precisely, people value to avoid diseases and get well. Also, they expect a particular health-related action to improve their health and prevent diseases. The two variables include instrumentality and valence.

Instrumentality explains a person’s belief that he/she will receive a greater reward if the performance expectations are met. Therefore, people will tend to perform to a certain level if they believe that their performance will result in a particular outcome that is recognized. Trust is vital to instrumentality. Given trust, a person is likely to believe in the promises made by the leaders that a good performance will always be rewarded. Similarly, policies have an impact on the person’s instrumentality perception. Instrumentality tends to increase when formalized policies link reward to performance. Valence explains the value that a person places on the rewards. Therefore, it is considered as an individual’s expected satisfaction from a particular outcome. However, the factors associated with valence include goals, needs, value and sources of motivation. If a person’s recognition of the reward is low, then his/her motivation will also reduce.
Biblical Application

I believe that the construct of perceived benefits aligns with the biblical scripture. The construct explains about believing in the usefulness of taking the recommended action to reduce the risk of contracting the disease. Churches have been used to conduct and also implement health-related programs. In the book of 1st Timothy 3: 15 (Good News Bible), the church is portrayed as the pillar and supporter of the truth. Pastors can use biblical scripture to capture the attention of their members when raising awareness of health-related issues. Therefore, people will benefit if they speak and accept the truth. Similarly, in the book of John 3:16 (Good News Bible), the bible say that, “for God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” The recommended action that the scripture portrays is to believe in Jesus Christ. The benefit that a person gets from believing in Jesus Christ is eternal life. Similarly, in the construct the benefit that a person will get from taking the recommended action is a reduction in the risk of contracting the disease. When Christians believe and accept Jesus Christ in their lives, they will have eternal life.
Biblical Contrast

I believe that the construct of perceived severity does not align with the biblical scriptures. Precisely, the construct tries to explain a person’s judgment as to the seriousness of the disease. The Bible does not encourage making a judgment and drawing quick conclusions. However, the construct stipulates that a person should judge the seriousness of the disease before taking the recommended action or adopt the new behavior. Therefore, it is wrong since in the book of Mathew 7: 1 (Good News Bible), the Bible says that “do not judge others, so that God will not judge you.” Therefore, they are two contrasting aspects that do not relate to one another. Similarly, the person will neglect the seriousness of the disease by making poor judgment or decisions.

Champion, V. L., & Skinner, C. S. (2008). The health belief model. Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice, 4, 45-65.

Chen, J. Y., Fox, S. A., Cantrell, C. H., Stockdale, S. E., & Kagawa-Singer, M. (2007). Health disparities and prevention: racial/ethnic barriers to flu vaccinations. Journal of community health, 32(1), 5-20.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2008). Health behavior and health education: theory, research, and practice. John Wiley & Sons.

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