Testing the relationship between self-agency and enactment of health behaviors

Res Nurs Health. 2003 Feb;26(1):20-9. doi: 10.1002/nur.10068.


A theoretical review provides a rationale for examining self-agency as a developmental foundation underlying processes of self-regulated change and a potential moderator of intervention effectiveness among participants in a nurse home-visitation program. Self-agency is defined as the conceptual understanding of self as an agent capable of shaping motives, behavior, and future possibilities (Damon & Hart, 1991). Availability of a sample of 186 mothers who received nurse home visitation provided an opportunity to test the relationship between participant self-agency and enactment of targeted health behaviors. Self-agency items from the Pearlin Mastery Scale (1978) were used to differentiate mothers who endorsed self-agency from those who did not. Consistent with the theoretical premise, mothers who endorsed self-agency at an established threshold were significantly more likely to enact health behaviors promoted during nurse visitation. Results provide support for the relationship between the development of self-agency and enactment of health behaviors targeted by a nurse home-visitation program.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Health Nursing / methods
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Tennessee