Health Psychology: Health Behaviors (Chapter 3)

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PSYC 412
David Perrin

HEALTH BEHAVIORS 10/20/2013 12:56:00 PM *The fundamentals of Health Psychology Health Promotion  A personal and collective achievement of good health/wellness o More successful, cheaper than disease prevention o Teach people basics of healthy lifestyle across the lifespan o Wellness/positive psychology Behaviors in Disease  ½ US deaths are due to preventable health factors o Top 3: smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption  Modifying health behaviors can reduce or delay death due to lifestyle illness Health Behaviors: behaviors people take to enhance or maintain health  Health Habits: health behaviors firmly established and often automatic o EX: teeth brushing, buckling seat belt 7 Critical Health Habits for Lower Mortality  Sleep 7-8 hrs per night  Don’t smoke  Eat breakfast  Consume no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day  Regular exercise  Don’t eat between meals  Be less than 10% overweight o Doing these 7 things will lead to a statistically longer life Primary Prevention  Instilling good health habits and changing poor ones  Combat risk factors before illness develops Effects on Health Habits  Age o Good in children, deteriorates in adolescence/young adulthood, improves in older adulthood  Health Locus of Control: perception that health is under one’s control, not due to chance  Social influences of family and friends o 90% relapse rate of alcoholism if return to previous/same environment after treatment  Self-Affirmation: focus on one’s personal values, reflection on behaviors  Access to health care o EX: regular mammograms, immunizations  Cognitive factors: basic knowledge/education and awareness of health behaviors Barriers of Modifying Poor Health Habits  Little immediate incentive for good behaviors  Not knowing how or when to intervene  Cost of good health behaviors o EX: whole/organic versus junk/processed food  Motivation differs between people and across the lifespan o EX: motivation to exercise to beef up versus to manage chronic pain  Emotional factors: bad habits are often pleasurable and automatic o Negative affect can undermine receptivity to health messages o Joking about serious topics to cope Intervene with Children/Adolescents  Socialization: influence of parents as role models o Instill health habits in young children who model after parents o EX: Michelle Obama’s health intervention campaign  Teachable Moment: optimal time for teaching a particular health behavior o EX: early childhood for seatbelts  Window of Vulnerability: time in which people are particularly susceptible to developing poor health behaviors o Especially adolescents/teenagers At-Risk Populations  Resources for health programs are limited (by $$$)  Target programs to vulnerable groups or people at particular risk  Prevent or eliminate poor habits  Efficient and effective use of money  Encourages appropriate monitoring of personal risk  Concerns in intervening: o People don’t always perceive risk correctly o When is it appropriate to alert at-risk people? o Ethics Health Promotion in Older Adults  Maintaining diet and exercise  Steps to reduce accidents, falls  Controlling alcohol consumption  Life-phase related psychological stressors o EX: shift from full-time worker to retiree  Reduce inappropriate prescription drug use  Eliminate smoking  Yearly flu vaccine (particularly elderly)  Practicing safe sex  Challenge stereotypes/increase self-efficacy o Internalized ageism is the biggest cause of disability among older adults Cultural Differences in Health Risks  Systematic and biological predispositions to particular illnesses put certain groups at higher risk for particular illnesses o Latinos: increased obesity o Gay men: increased HIV o White: increased meth use o Black: increased heart disease, cancer  Environmental and systemic influences create huge racial disparities across all aspects of life Changing Health Habits  Educational Appeal o Educate people about proper habits and risks o Appeals include:  Vivid communication  “expert” communicators  Strong argument at beginning and end  Short, clear, concise messages  Presents pros and cons  Fear Appeal o Scare people to reduce bad habits o Too much fear undermines change o Fear alone is not sufficient o Needs recommendations for action and information about efficacy and health behavior to be most effective Health-Belief Model  One is practice a health behavior if: o Feel a personal vulnerability to health threat, and o Perception
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