Toward a theory-based analysis of behavioral maintenance

Health Psychol. 2000 Jan;19(1S):64-9. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.19.suppl1.64.


Intervention strategies that can produce successful rates of long-term behavior change have proven elusive and indicate the need for new approaches to this vexing problem. However, the development of new intervention strategies is constrained by our current conceptualization of behavioral maintenance. This article reviews how the dominant models of health behavior change have operationalized the psychological processes that guide the initiation and maintenance of a new pattern of behavior. In light of this review, an alternative framework is proposed based on the premise that the decision criteria that lead people to initiate a change in their behavior are different from those that lead them to maintain that behavior. Decisions regarding behavioral initiation are predicted to depend on favorable expectations regarding future outcomes, whereas decisions regarding behavioral maintenance are predicted to depend on perceived satisfaction with received outcomes. The implications of this framework for behavioral interventions are addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Life Style*