“A major proportion of deaths could be prevented if people were to change their health-behaviours” Human behaviour plays a central role in the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. Health-risk behaviour can be defined as any activity undertaken by people with a frequency or intensity that increases risk of disease or injury (Steptoe & Wardle, 2004). The health risk behaviours might cluster together into a risky lifestyle. Much of the mortality and morbidity is caused by individual behavioural patterns, polluted environment or poverty. Statistics show that half of the premature death from the 10 leading causes in developed countries is caused by preventable factors, such as: tobacco use, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, unhealthy dietary habits, risk sexual practices, non-adherence to effective medication regimens and to screening programs (Gray, 1993). Health risk behaviours also influence cognitive performance, emotions, and the overall quality of life (Hawkins & Anderson, 1996). Although epidemiologic data on the relationships between these behaviours and various health outcomes were available in the early 1980s, many refinements in knowledge have occurred since then. Causal conclusions have been strengthened by more sophisticated research designs, and program implementations. The impact of these risk behaviours on health is of such magnitude that it has become one of the priorities of the most important national and international health organizations (Rutter & Quine, 2004) Considering the importance of health-risk behaviour as the target of interventions that facilitate the decrease of morbidity and mortality and augment quality of life, this essay has several aims: first, to describe and critically analyse the most important psychological models that intend to explain and predict health behaviour and second, to discuss their effectiveness in relation to behaviour change strategies that would help develop a theory and evidence-based practice in health psychology, integrated with the current evidence-based practice of clinical psychology and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapies. (e.g., evidence-based psychotherapy). HEALTH BEHAVIOR CHANGE MODELS
Human behaviour plays a central role in the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. Growing evidence suggests that effective programs to change individual health behaviour require a multifaceted approach to helping people adopt, change, and maintain behaviour. For example, strategies for establishing healthy eating habits in children and adolescents might be quite ineffective for changing maladaptive eating behaviours—that is, when they are used to substitute one pattern for another—in the same population (e.g.Jeffery et al. 2000). Similarly, maintaining a particular behaviour over time might require different strategies than will establishing that behaviour in the first place (e.g., Ockene et al 2000). Models of behaviour change have been developed to guide strategies to promote healthy behaviours and facilitate effective adaptation to and coping with illness. Armitage and Conner (2000) in a review on social cognition models of health behaviour describe three categories of models: motivational, behavioural enactment and multi-stage. Motivational models are based on the assumption that drive is enough for successful behavioural enactment and therefore focus on the motivational factors that determine performance. As intention is considered to be the most proximal determinant of behaviour, it is widely used as the dependent variable in research founded on motivational models (Godin & Kook, 1996). The behavioural enactment models have developed as a response to the criticisms brought to motivational models. Consequently, behavioural enactment models centre on the action control strategies that help translate motivation into action. Last but not least, multi-stage theories are considered the most complex ones because they include...
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