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Assignment: Applying the Health Belief Model to Populations Essay

Assignment: Applying the Health Belief Model to Populations Essay


Health Belief Model (HBM) is considered a theoretical framework readily used to guide decisions on disease prevention and health promotion programs. According to Green and Murphy (2014), the theory is a conceptual framework used in understanding health behavior among populations. According to the model, a person is likely to take positive action if there is a perception that the current behavior can yield negative health outcomes (Sharma, 2016). Even though the model is used to explain and predict a person’s change in health behaviors, it remains uncertain on how key factors of perceived benefits of an action have a significant influence on choices. As such, the present article focuses on an elaboration of the health belief model using a case study of an American diagnosed with high blood pressure. The focus will explore the constructs that underpin the HBM and how the theory provides a framework for the motivation of the patient in the case study to embrace behavioral change with regard to hypertension.

Chosen Topic: African American woman diagnosed with high blood pressure

Ella is a 32-year-old, African-American and single woman with a demanding workload that creates physical and emotional stress. Investigations from a recent health screening showed a high blood pressure reading. Ella has since started to make an adjustment to her diet as well as increase daily physical activity.

Based on this case study, it is important to explore factors that influence the patterns of behavior of Ella. Health behavior model and social cognitive theory stand out as the most intrapersonal health behavior theories that influence the patterns of actions of Ella (Sharma, 2016). This is guided by the premise that the theories determine knowledge about healthy dietary choices and provide motivation for the need to embrace physical activity as one of the major components of a healthy lifestyle. However, this proposition is yet to be established through an elaboration of the Health Behavior Model and Social Cognitive Theory.

Health Belief Model as a Framework for Predicting Behavior Change

Green and Murphy (2014) postulate that HBM was developed in the 1950s purposely to describe the reason for the widespread failure of individuals in the United States of America to take part in programs that aim to prevent and detect illnesses. The theory was extended to explore peoples’ responses to various symptoms of ill-health and how their behaviors changed based on diagnosed diseases especially on the aspects of adherence to prescribed medication and self-care. HBM address preventive health behaviors as opposed to addressing the behavior that occurs due to an illness. In other words, the model focuses on preventive measures based on the exposure of a person to a given disease (Sharma, 2016). This model also explains why people take actions to prevent or control diseases that compromise the quality of their lives. HBM postulates that health behaviors among people are motivated by six key constructs related to perceived seriousness, perceived barriers to behavior, perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits, perceived self-efficacy, and cues to actions.

Social Cognitive Theory

The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) explores how personal experiences, the action of others as well as the environmental factors influence the behavior of a person. The theory is based on several key components that influence individual behavior change (Sharma, 2016). Self-efficacy as one of these components is based on a belief that a person has on how to control and execute behavior. On the other hand, behavioral capability as the second component explores the skills of a person in performing a behavior. The third component is expectations and this determines the outcomes of behavior. Expectancies, self-control, observational learning, and reinforcements are also components of SCT that model the behavior of people.

The frameworks defined by the health belief model and social cognitive theory provide an avenue for determining the correlates between health beliefs and associated health behavior for Ella. In other words, the HBM and SCT provide illustrations of why a given population behaves in a specific way. Such information is vital in making a decision about an intervention to provide a solution to health problem affecting the population (Green & Murphy, 2014). Nonetheless, the model can be used to develop health education strategies for a given population. The Health Belief Model constructs that relate to the case of Ella are described in the following discussion.


Construct of Perceived Benefits and Perceived Barriers in Influencing Health Change

The constructs of perceived benefits and perceived barriers combine to form a likelihood of engaging in a behavior. The benefits of taking preventive actions as remedies to high blood pressure are viewed as greater than the harms associated with the condition for Ella (Ferdinand, 2015). This will prompt her to adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce the severity of the underlying factor or prevent the condition. Perceived barriers, on the other hand, focus on negative outcomes related to adopting a healthy behavior (Weber et al., 2014). If Ella views such actions as negative, then she is not likely to embrace the change towards a healthy lifestyle. For example, Ella may adopt a behavioral intention to eat healthy food as well as engage in physical activity if there are no perceived barriers to such actions. This depends on her knowledge about unhealthy behaviors that underlie high blood pressure especially with regard to her choice of foods that have high sodium content.

Construct of Perceived Seriousness and Perceptions of Susceptibility

These two constructs combine to instill a perception of fear or threat to a disease. For Ella, the fear that she is more susceptible to develop hypertension will motivate her to embrace a healthy lifestyle. For long the African Americans have been the subject of non-communicable diseases which includes high blood pressure (Mou, Shin & Cohen, 2016). The perceived personalize risk as per the

Assignment Applying the Health Belief Model to Populations Essay

Assignment Applying the Health Belief Model to Populations Essay

genetic trait of the racial group is likely to instill a culture of positive behavior change for Ella, especially with regard to diets that have high sodium content. A heightened perceived susceptibility is likely to enhance prompt dietary and behavioral changes as a remedy to hypertension (Weber et al., 2014). Moreover, if the perceived severity of the condition can yield a serious consequence, then an action to address the challenge will be implemented immediately. For instance, hypertension can have negative impacts on the outcomes of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular and kidney disease (Ferdinand, 2015). With this perceived severity, Ella can modify her behavior towards healthy dietary choices and positive lifestyle habits.

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Personal, Environmental, and Social Factors Influence Ella’s Health Behaviors

The personal belief about hypertension will influence Ella’s decision on lifestyle habit. This depends on her knowledge about the condition. Environmental factors relate to work setting and elements at home that deter healthy living (Sharma, 2016). For instance, Ella has a busy schedule at the place of work and this can affect her routine patterns of developing a workable exercise plan. Besides, the conditions at work make her develop stress which if not well controlled may exacerbate high blood pressure (Weber et al., 2014). The social factors relate to the influence of others in her lifestyle choices. Since she is a single mother, her patterns of behavior may not change readily due to lack of social support. However, the colleagues at work may motivate her towards adopting a healthy lifestyle by encouraging her to practice good nutrition and maintain a regular exercise.

How the Theory is applied in Health Interventions for Ella

The SCT is used to investigate the behavior of Ella. The framework of the theory helps in the identification of decision-making points which can be used for short and long-term health interventions to influence the behavior of specific Ella. Specifically, helps in the identification and reduction of barriers associated with management of hypertension (Green & Murphy, 2014). Self-efficacy construct is used to instill knowledge about hypertension as well as aspects of care practices to motivate Ella in making healthy decisions on diets. Expectancies construct of SCT is used to assign the value of outcomes which entail setting targets on hypertension control (Sharma, 2016). The reinforcement construct, on the other hand, aims to motivate Ella towards behavioral change as she anticipates a positive health outcome.


The Health Belief Model (HBM) has been used extensively to create effective health behavior change interventions and programs. The focus of the HBM is to describe how certain personal beliefs influence health behavior. Using the HBM constructs of perceived benefits, perceived barriers, perceived seriousness, perceived susceptibility, cues to action, modifying variables, and self-efficacy, you will apply the health belief model to a specific health topic.
For this Assignment, the topic will be assigned by your Instructor. However, you will select a target population from the populations provided in the Target Population document found in your Learning Resources.
To prepare:
• Review this module’s Resources.
• Visit the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research’s Social and Behavioral Theories website to review the constructs of the Health Belief Model and complete Exercise 1.
• Review the topic assigned to you by your Instructor. Please be sure to contact your Instructor if you have any questions.
• Select one target population from the populations provided in the Target Population document found in your Learning Resources.
• Select at least three peer-reviewed, scholarly articles related to your assigned topic and target population.
Submit a 3- to 4-page paper (not including title page and references) that includes the following:
• Title page
• Health Belief Model
o In your own words, provide a brief description of the Health Belief Model.
• Perceived Benefits and Perceived Barriers
o Using the constructs of perceived benefits and perceived barriers, describe the assigned health topic and how these constructs apply to your selected target group. Be specific and provide examples.
• Other Constructs
o Select two other constructs of your choice and describe how the constructs specifically apply to your target group and the assigned health topic. Be specific and provide examples.
• Summary of HBM
o Summarize the HBM and its application to your selected target and assigned health topic.
• APA formatted references
Note: Be sure to cite the sources within your text where you refer to them using APA format. Include peer-reviewed journal articles that establish the evidence-based research for your responses.

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