The role of self-efficacy in achieving health behavior change

Health Educ Q. 1986 Spring;13(1):73-92. doi: 10.1177/109019818601300108.


The concept of self-efficacy is receiving increasing recognition as a predictor of health behavior change and maintenance. The purpose of this article is to facilitate a clearer understanding of both the concept and its relevance for health education research and practice. Self-efficacy is first defined and distinguished from other related concepts. Next, studies of the self-efficacy concept as it relates to health practices are examined. This review focuses on cigarette smoking, weight control, contraception, alcohol abuse and exercise behaviors. The studies reviewed suggest strong relationships between self-efficacy and health behavior change and maintenance. Experimental manipulations of self-efficacy suggest that efficacy can be enhanced and that this enhancement is related to subsequent health behavior change. The findings from these studies also suggest methods for modifying health practices. These methods diverge from many of the current, traditional methods for changing health practices. Recommendations for incorporating the enhancement of self-efficacy into health behavior change programs are made in light of the reviewed findings.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Weight
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Physical Exertion
  • Self Concept*
  • Set, Psychology
  • Smoking Prevention