In This Article Behavior

  • Introduction
  • Books
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Anthologies
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Health-Related Behavior
  • Behavioral Diagnosis
  • Health Risk
  • Change
  • Tailoring to Individuals

Public Health Behavior
by
Laura Bouwman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0006

Introduction

Health behaviors are people’s actions, some purposefully deployed to promote or protect health; some thoughtlessly undertaken without concern for their potential risk to health; some consciously, even defiantly, deployed regardless of consequences to health. Risk behaviors are specific forms of behavior proven to be associated with increased susceptibility to a specific disease or ill health on the basis of epidemiological or other social data. Lifestyles are patterns of behaviors determined by the interplay between an individual’s personal characteristics, social interactions, and socioeconomic and environmental living conditions. Unhealthful diets, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and unprotected sex can lead to noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. These account for approximately 60 percent of the global disease burden. Disease prevention and health promotion aim to change risk behavior by using a combination of policy, organizational, and health educational approaches. Health behavior literature and practice, however, have been dominated by cognitive behavioral approaches, which start from the idea that what people know and think affects how they act. Yet, many studies fail to show a relationship among psychological concepts such as motivation, beliefs, attitudes, and actual behavior. Within health promotion, risk behavior is viewed as a mechanism for coping with adverse living conditions that can be influenced by creating supportive environments for health. The ecological perspective that underlies health promotion starts from the idea that patterns of behavior both shape and are shaped by the social environment. Action must therefore be directed at the individual as well as the social and living conditions that interact to produce and maintain these patterns of behavior.

Books

Multiple scientific disciplines are involved in understanding and modifying health-related behavior. Rayner and Lang 2012 presents a refocus of public health actions on the human-ecosystem interaction, calling for interdisciplinary action to tackle early-21st-century health-related issues. Rothman 2012 provides an introduction to the discipline of epidemiology that is concerned with the distribution and etiology of diseases and the identification of associated behavioral and environmental factors. World Health Organization 2009 overviews the global risks for mortality and burden of disease. Specific behaviors associated with global health issues are reported in World Health Organization 2002. The field of behavioral medicine studies the interaction among behavior, health, and disease and is concerned with therapy, prevention, and revalidation. In the psychology discipline, Morrison and Bennett 2009 examines reducing risks of diseases through individual and population approaches to behavior change, including medical consultation. The comprehensive Glanz, et al. 2008 introduces the reader to the basics of theory, research, and practice on health behavior and health behavior change. Koelen and van den Ban 2004 examines the theoretical background of health behavior within the scope of health education and health promotion. The identification of behaviors related to health issues, the underlying causes, and modification strategies are part of the Precede-Proceed planning framework of Green and Kreuter 2005. Bartholomew, et al. 2011 examines intervention mapping, a tool that ensures that theoretical models and empirical evidence guide the identification of behavioral and environmental determinants and the selection of most-appropriate methods and strategies for change. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports on strategies to target behaviors related to the key health issues such as obesity, as well as other behaviors, are available online.

  • Bartholomew, L. Kay, Guy S. Parcel, Gerjo Kok, Nell H. Gottlieb, and María E. Fernández, eds. 2011. Planning health promotion programs: An intervention mapping approach. 3d ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    E-mail Citation »

    Examines intervention mapping, a tool that ensures that theoretical models and empirical evidence guide the identification of behavioral and environmental determinants and the selection of most-appropriate methods and strategies for change. Features overviews of theoretical methods that can be used to influence determinants of behavior at individual and environmental levels, including parameters for use.

  • Glanz, Karen, Barbara K. Rimer, and Kasisomayajula Viswanath, eds. 2008. Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    E-mail Citation »

    Introduces the reader to the basics of health behavior and health education theory, research, and practice in relation to health behavior, as well as insight in ongoing debates about different approaches in understanding and changing health-related behavior.

  • Green, Lawrence W., and Marshall W. Kreuter. 2005. Health program planning: An educational and ecological approach. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    E-mail Citation »

    Offers a framework for identifying and addressing behavioral issues within a comprehensive planning model for public health interventions. The identification of behaviors related to health issues, the underlying causes, and modification strategies are part of the authors’ Precede-Proceed planning framework.

  • Koelen, Maria A., and Anne van den Ban. 2004. Health education and health promotion. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic.

    DOI: 10.3920/978-90-8686-665-6E-mail Citation »

    Examines the theoretical background of health behavior within the scope of health education and health promotion.

  • Morrison, Val, and Paul Bennett. 2009. An introduction to health psychology. 2d ed. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.

    E-mail Citation »

    Outlines the relation among behavior, biology, and social context in influencing health and illness. The book is structured according to the goals in health psychology of describing, predicting, and intervening in health issues. It examines behavioral health issues, behavioral (change) models, research evidence, and application in behavioral interventions and specifically the impact of medical consultation.

  • Rayner, Geof, and Tim Lang. 2012. Ecological public health: Reshaping the conditions for good health. New York: Routledge.

    E-mail Citation »

    Discusses how multiple long-term transitions require an integrated ecological approach to public health, representing the material, biological, social, and cultural dimensions of life. Outlines the current issues and how interdisciplinary work at multiple levels may strengthen understanding and action.

  • Rothman, Kenneth J. 2012. Epidemiology: An introduction. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    Easy-to-understand introduction to the discipline of epidemiology, concerned with the distribution and etiology of diseases and the identification of associated behavioral and environmental factors.

  • World Health Organization. 2002.The world health report 2002: Reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

    E-mail Citation »

    WHO looks at reducing risks and promoting healthy lifestyles.

  • World Health Organization. 2009. Global health risks: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

    E-mail Citation »

    The WHO reports on the leading global risks for mortality in the world of high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose, physical inactivity, and obesity.

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