Towards an effective health interventions design: an extension of the health belief model

Online J Public Health Inform. 2012;4(3):ojphi.v4i3.4321. doi: 10.5210/ojphi.v4i3.4321. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Introduction: The recent years have witnessed a continuous increase in lifestyle related health challenges around the world. As a result, researchers and health practitioners have focused on promoting healthy behavior using various behavior change interventions. The designs of most of these interventions are informed by health behavior models and theories adapted from various disciplines. Several health behavior theories have been used to inform health intervention designs, such as the Theory of Planned Behavior, the Transtheoretical Model, and the Health Belief Model (HBM). However, the Health Belief Model (HBM), developed in the 1950s to investigate why people fail to undertake preventive health measures, remains one of the most widely employed theories of health behavior. However, the effectiveness of this model is limited. The first limitation is the low predictive capacity (R(2) < 0.21 on average) of existing HBM's variables coupled with the small effect size of individual variables. The second is lack of clear rules of combination and relationship between the individual variables. In this paper, we propose a solution that aims at addressing these limitations as follows: (1) we extended the Health Belief Model by introducing four new variables: Self-identity, Perceived Importance, Consideration of Future Consequences, and Concern for Appearance as possible determinants of healthy behavior. (2) We exhaustively explored the relationships/interactions between the HBM variables and their effect size. (3) We tested the validity of both our proposed extended model and the original HBM on healthy eating behavior. Finally, we compared the predictive capacity of the original HBM model and our extended model.

Methods: To achieve the objective of this paper, we conducted a quantitative study of 576 participants' eating behavior. Data for this study were collected over a period of one year (from August 2011 to August 2012). The questionnaire consisted of validated scales assessing the HBM determinants - perceived benefit, barrier, susceptibility, severity, cue to action, and self-efficacy - using 7-point Likert scale. We also assessed other health determinants such as consideration of future consequences, self-identity, concern for appearance and perceived importance. To analyses our data, we employed factor analysis and Partial Least Square Structural Equation Model (PLS-SEM) to exhaustively explore the interaction/relationship between the determinants and healthy eating behavior. We tested for the validity of both our proposed extended model and the original HBM on healthy eating behavior. Finally, we compared the predictive capacity of the original HBM model and our extended model and investigated possible mediating effects.

Results: The results show that the three newly added determinants are better predictors of healthy behavior. Our extended HBM model lead to approximately 78% increase (from 40 to 71%) in predictive capacity compared to the old model. This shows the suitability of our extended HBM for use in predicting healthy behavior and in informing health intervention design. The results from examining possible relationships between the determinants in our model lead to an interesting discovery of some mediating relationships between the HBM's determinants, therefore, shedding light on some possible combinations of determinants that could be employed by intervention designers to increase the effectiveness of their design.

Conclusion: Consideration of future consequences, self-identity, concern for appearance, perceived importance, self-efficacy, perceived susceptibility are significant determinants of healthy eating behavior that can be manipulated by healthy eating intervention design. Most importantly, the result from our model established the existence of some mediating relationships among the determinants. The knowledge of both the direct and indirect relationships sheds some light on the possible combination rules.

Keywords: Determinants; Health Behavior; Health Belief; Health Interventions; Models; Theories.