Sample Essay on Health Belief Model

Health Belief Model

Health belief model refers to a behavior change model in psychological health that was developed with an aim of explaining and predicting health-related behaviors especially in the uptake of medical or health services. The model was established by the social psychologists in the U.S. Public Health Service in the 1950s. It remains one of the widely used and popular theories in health behavior studies.

According to this model, beliefs that people have regarding health problems, self-efficacy, action barriers and perceived benefits of the action explain engagement or lack of it in behaviors that promote health. To trigger health promoting behaviors, a cue to an action or stimulus must be present.

This model was developed in a bid to understand why people were not adapting strategies for preventing diseases or screening tests to enhance disease detection at early stages. Later, the model was used in analyzing responses of patients to symptoms and medical treatments’ compliance.

The health belief model derives from behavioral and psychological theory with its foundation being two health-related behavior components. These are:

  • Desire for avoiding illness or getting well if ill
  • Belief that a certain health action prevents or cures an illness

Ultimately, the course of action taken by an individual is dependent on the perception of that individual of the barriers and benefits that are related to that health behavior. Health belief model has six constructs. Four of these constructs where established as the initial tenets of the model and the other two were added later after the evolution of the model.

The constructs are perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cue to action and self-efficacy. Health belief model has several limitations which affects its utility in the public health sector. For instance, this model fails to account for the attitude, beliefs and other determinants of the acceptance of a person for a health behavior.

It also does not account for habitual behaviors which may inform decision making process and acceptance of a recommended action. The model also does not account for behaviors that individuals perform for reasons that are not related to their health like social acceptability reasons. Other factors that health belief model does not account for are economic and environmental factors that can promote or prohibit a recommended health action.

In addition, the model assumes that individuals have equal access to information on the disease or illness. Additionally, the model assumes that cues to health action are prevalent and that they encourage individuals to act and that the main goal in decision making process is health actions.

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