Lecture 2- Health Behaviours
Definition: To increase control over, and to improve health
Good Health = personal and collective goal
o Individual: Health habits
Sense of personal control is very important and HP puts a huge
focus of this
o Health psychology: practice, maintenance and change
Showing them how to change the behaviour is very important
and not just telling them. Coming up with strategies together is
a very effective way of accomplishing this.
o Interactions with medical system, mass media and legislation
Doctors should have conversations with their patients: meds
on a continual basis in my regular routine. Suggesting
behaviour changes: like sleeping 8 hrs
Mass media: make it available to individuals in a language that
is understandable to them. (ie lack of scientific words)
o Prevention and treatment costs will diminish if promotion is
To enhance and/or maintain health
Poor health behaviours poor health habits and illness
o Even if you go to the gym 5 times a week, if you smoke a pack of
cigarettes a day, you still have behaviours to change
Not as specific as health habits
Firmly established, often automatic
o Ex: brushing our teeth, we have been doing it forever and we already
know the benefits
Begin in childhood, stabilize around 11 or 12
Often requires a specific equipment (ex: running shoes, the actual
This is why it is important to have programs for young children to teach
them good behaviours that are more likely to become habits.
They come hand in hand. Ex: after exercising you will have a tendency to eat
If we increase the awareness, reduce chances of getting ill; some genetic
predispositions. Factors Associated with Health Behaviours
Ex: SES, social support, education, stress
Can be positive or negative factors
o If you tend to interact with people who get drunk and smoke all the
time, it will also influence your behaviours.
Age and gender: variance
Childhood is the key stage to establish good behaviours, becomes harder to
change as life proceeds.
Childhood: good adolescence: poor adulthood: good
Window of vulnerability: life stages where we are more vulnerable to start
practicing poor health behaviours and the stage where it becomes hard to
create change (adolescence)
A common example is starting smoking
Hardest to change: teenage girls because their behaviours are usually linked
to self-imagine and how they appear to their social world.
Ex: Culture can influence personal choices
Restaurants in USA, everything is bigger
Exercise has become more prominent in Canada, and when we see this
change, it encourages us to exercise as well.
Some religions don’t allow women to exercise
Health locus of control
o Even if you are genetically predisposed, you can still reduce the
chance of risk factors by engaging in healthy behaviours. Don’t just sit
around and do nothing. You always have SOME control.
Internal and external
o As you get older and more mature, you are less influenced by external
factors and can rely more on internal factors
Both positive influences and negative influences
Recall window of vulnerability
Should be reasonable, but still challenging
o Ex: running a marathon in 3 weeks when you have never run in your
Once achieved, you need to work on maintaining it in the future. Always start small and work towards something harder. You can set easy
goals, moderate goals and more difficult goals.
Sensations associated with a particular behaviour
Reminding yourself how you felt after you did something good so that it will
encourage you to continue in the future when you are less motivated.
Applies to both negative and positive behaviours
o Ex: how good you felt after you went to the gym
o Ex: when you overeat and you feel sick afterwards
Health Care Services
Essential and not so essential services
Essential = going to the doctor and dentist, although it may only be every 6-
Not so essential = having a park nearby, a gym nearby
Ex: the elderly who have trouble going to the pharmacy to refill their
prescriptions. Making it more accessible for them.
Beliefs regarding risks and benefits of health behaviours.
Knowing the positive and negatives associated with a behaviour despite
what we may have known our whole life.
1) Changing Health Behaviours: The Health Belief Model
Attitude change models: how and why people practice behaviours and how
and why it is hard to integrate into daily life.
Whether a person practices a health behaviour depends on:
1) Individual Factors: Personal control, demographics, values
2) Degree to which a perceived health threat exists: ex: how likely is
it that I will develop Cancer? Or knowing about having the cancer
gene will make me want to practice better health behaviours
3) Perception that behaviour will reduce threat. Ex: celiac disease
( 2+3 mentioned in the book) 2) Changing Health Behaviours: Theory of Planned Behaviour
Linking health attitudes directly to behaviour
Health behaviour = direct result of behaviours intention
Behavioural intentions are made up of:
o Attitude toward the specific action
Determining what my beliefs are about the likely outcome and
evaluating these outcomes.
o Subjective norms regarding the action
What a person believes others think that person should do
(normative beliefs) and the motivation to comply with those