Self-regulatory processes mediate the intention-behavior relation for adherence and exercise behaviors

Health Psychol. 2012 Nov;31(6):695-703. doi: 10.1037/a0027425. Epub 2012 Mar 5.


Objectives: Understanding the gap between people's intentions and actual health behavior is an important issue in health psychology. Our aim in this study was to investigate whether self-regulatory processes (monitoring goal progress and responding to discrepancies) mediate the intention-behavior relation in relation to HIV medication adherence (Study 1) and intensive exercise behavior (Study 2).

Method: In Study 1, questionnaire and electronically monitored adherence data were collected at baseline and 3 months later from patients in the control arm of an HIV-adherence intervention study. In Study 2, questionnaire data was collected at 3 time points 6-weeks apart in a cohort study of physical activity.

Results: Complete data at all time points were obtained from 51 HIV-infected patients and 499 intensive exercise participants. Intentions were good predictors of behavior and explained 25 to 30% of the variance. Self-regulatory processes explained an additional 11% (Study 1) and 6% (Study 2) of variance in behavior on top of intentions. Regression and bootstrap analyses revealed at least partial, and possibly full, mediation of the intention-behavior relation by self-regulatory processes.

Conclusions: The present studies indicate that self-regulatory processes may explain how intentions drive behavior. Future tests, using different health behaviors and experimental designs, could firmly establish whether self-regulatory processes complement current health behavior theories and should become routine targets for intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires