Grand Canyon University
Encouraging patients to make major lifestyle changes after a critical illness can be frustrating and challenging for nurses. Denial and feeling overwhelmed by a great deal of new information, patients can be reluctant to implement these changes even though the benefits are explained to them in great detail. “The Health Belief Model is a framework for motivating people to take positive health actions that uses the desire to avoid a negative health consequence as the prime motivation” ("Theories and Approaches," n.d., para. 3). Often times, avoiding a negative consequence can be a more powerful incentive than a reward for positive behavior. Four main points in the HBM are: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers (Taylor et al., 2007). As nurses it is our responsibility to prepare our patients to return home and arm them with the best possible tools to avoid a repeat admission. Patients have a lot to absorb, and the lifestyle changes that accompany illness aren’t always welcome changes. We must be willing to look past initial resistance to change at the underlying issues that can be addressed in order to modify behavior. For example, permanent changes in diet and activity are paramount to remaining healthy in the obese and sedentary post MI patient. Consequences of behavior must be explained in detail and information should be provided to give the patient multiple options and choices. Walking for the outdoorsman, swimming for the water-lover and zumba for the “party-guy” might all be options provided for exercise. Subtle changes in diet should be introduced and numerous options and choices should be offered. The dangers of continuing with unhealthy behaviors, including, but not limited to: impotence, stroke, and death, should be explained in detail, following the Health Belief Model of avoiding negative health consequences....
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