A test of major assumptions about behavior change: a comprehensive look at the effects of passive and active HIV-prevention interventions since the beginning of the epidemic

Psychol Bull. 2005 Nov;131(6):856-97. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.856.


This meta-analysis tested the major theoretical assumptions about behavior change by examining the outcomes and mediating mechanisms of different preventive strategies in a sample of 354 HIV-prevention interventions and 99 control groups, spanning the past 17 years. There were 2 main conclusions from this extensive review. First, the most effective interventions were those that contained attitudinal arguments, educational information, behavioral skills arguments, and behavioral skills training, whereas the least effective ones were those that attempted to induce fear of HIV. Second, the impact of the interventions and the different strategies behind them was contingent on the gender, age, ethnicity, risk group, and past condom use of the target audience in ways that illuminate the direction of future preventive efforts.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Condoms
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking