Health Behavior Choices - The Basics
Research in the field of health education and public health outreach is grounded in the Health Belief Model which states that a person's willingness to maintain healthy behaviors or adopt healthier habits is predictable if several factors are present:
- Perceived Susceptibility: People adopt new health behaviors when they believe they are at risk. For example, if parents perceive their teens to be at risk of a car crash without proper training and "house rules," they may allocate time and effort to train and monitor them.
- Perceived Severity: People change health behaviors to avoid serious consequences. For example, parents who perceive car crashes as serious events that can change their children's future may access www.teendriversource.org to learn about teen driver parenting strategies and apply them at home.
- Perceived Benefits: People adopt a new behavior if they think their efforts will be rewarded with a "set of perks." It's difficult to convince people to change a behavior if there isn't something more immediate in it for them. "Perks" may include reducing their stress level while acting as "driving teacher," bonding with their teens through logging more driving practice hours, and helping their teens succeed with new skills.
- Perceived Barriers: People don't want to "go it alone," which could be perceived as a barrier. Parents are susceptible to peer pressure and, like their teens, want to feel "normal." If their friends or coworkers are taking time to set rules and communicate with their teens about the seriousness of driving, they may feel part of a group with a mission and supported in this important effort.