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Health Behavior Theories

The role of a competent nurse practitioner not only implies health care delivery, but it additionally includes specific interventions that coach, teach, inform, and mentor patients in order to achieve their health goals. It goes without saying that the in-depth examination of human behaviors related to health that are connected with motivation, barriers, self-efficacy, and self-determination is highly essential for effective health care management. There are several theories that support health care providers in their interventions and attempt to explain the patients’ health-related behavior – Health Belief Model, Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, and Social Cognitive Theory. Other theories include the Family Systems Theory, Family Assessment and Intervention Model, and the Praxis Theory of Suffering. All of them are regarded as termed continuum theories that aim to identify specific variables that may influence people’s behavior. However, behavioral theories are frequently criticized for their limited focus on particular outcomes.

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The Health Belief Model is characterized by six fundamental constructs that influence the patient’s decision-making concerning the viability of actions connected with the modification of health behavior. These constructs include perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, self-efficacy, and cues to action. In turn, the Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change states that patients have different degrees of readiness when they want to change their behavioral patterns in order to regain or improve health. The Social Cognitive Theory introduces a specific model that explains the influence of environmental conditions and personal factors on human behavior. The most peculiar tenet of this theory suggests that people learn through the observation of other’s failures and successes due to health behavior modifications.

The Family Systems Theory and the Family Assessment and Intervention Model are connected with the participation of family members in the formation of the patient’s appropriate health behavior. Finally, the Praxis Theory of Suffering focuses on suffering and comforting and identifies two different states of suffering – emotional suffering and enduring. Emotional suffering implies the individual acknowledgment of loss that is characterized by the sorrowful expression, crying, and loss recollection. Enduring relates to self-control, the suppression of emotions, and the understanding of all negative consequences of emotional breakdown. According to this theory, comfort occurs when a health care provider recognizes the patient’s suffering and provides appropriate comforting actions not only to an individual but his or her family as well.

From a personal perspective, all these behavioral theories are highly essential for the efficient practice of any competent health care specialists. They demonstrate that any patient’s well-being depends not only on the nurses’ activities but his or her personal behavior, self-efficacy, motivation, and actions. As a nurse practitioner in the future, I should consider a person’s individual characteristics, knowledge related to his or her conditions, and the desire to improve health or a lack of it, as well. I will understand that inappropriate income of health care delivery may be connected with the patient’s personal characteristics, and I will try to take necessary actions in order to change his or her behavior.

When I was investigating all theories, the Health Belief Model, the Social Cognitive Theory, and the Family Systems Theory had attracted particular attention. In my submission, these health-related behavior theories comprise all variables that may influence human behavior – personal characteristics, motivation, self-confidence, environmental conditions, and family members who surround a patient. However, I see the potential barriers of the theories’ practical application in the non-inclusion of the patients’ features, such as gender, race, or socioeconomic status, that traditionally have a substantial impact on health behavior.


Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2015). Health behavior: Theory, research, and practice (5th ed.). Jossey-Bass.

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