Using the health belief model
Using the health belief model, how can nurses encourage patients to make immediate and permanent behavior changes, particularly as they relate to lifestyle choices?
Developed in the 1950’s by social psychologists working for the U.S. Public Health Service, this model was devised to explain low public participation in programs to detect and prevent disease. Among the first theories of health behavior, this model proposes that an individual’s behavior in relation to his/her health depends of four factors. The severity they perceive in a potential illness, their susceptibility to it, the imagined benefits of taking preventive action and barriers to such action.
In a health care setting that relies on the compliance of the patient and in their participation in preventive healthcare practices, the nurse emerges as a crucial interventionist who can positively influence the patient. When a nurse with access to the health belief model of an individual approaches the patient, her role transforms into that of a medical educator or counselor in the sense that he/she is able to point out the reasons for the current state of the patients suffering. Further he/she can address the manner in which the patient can avoid such suffering in the future by making simple yet significant lifestyle changes. In this manner nurses can reveal to patients a gap which exists between their health beliefs and actual medical knowledge. Nurses are thus able to intervene in the manner in which individuals imagine themselves and their lifestyles in relation to disease.