Health decisions for others : an extension of the Health Belief Model
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The Health Belief Model (HBM) is a widely-used theory to understand why individuals engage in certain health behaviors. With its focus on perceived benefits and barriers as major contributors to behavior change, the HBM is also noted as a valuable framework in health communication research and practice. The overarching purpose of this study is to consider an outward focus to the HBM, adding to its already strong explanatory power of how individuals make health decisions for not only themselves, but for others as well. The findings of this research may have practical implications in healthcare settings, between health professionals and patients, and may add value to health promotion campaigns so they resonate better with intended audiences. This study will first discuss the HBM; its history and its early uses in health behavior research. It will then discuss the limited research that attempts to use the HBM in the context of ‘others’, and theories from interpersonal communication that have also touched on the subject – such as communal coping. Locus of control and fatalism are also taken in to account as potential modifiers to how people go about making health-related decisions for others. The conceptual background for this study is in the context of prenatal/pregnancy health. Maternal and infant health research is the investigator’s focus and fits well in to the idea of making health decisions for others and the potential expansion of the HBM. A review of prenatal health promotion, both from an interpersonal and mass communication perspective is also given. A sample of graduate students and members of the community (N=21) were interviewed for this study. The methods, results, discussion, and implications of the findings are provided in the following chapters.