- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0081
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0081
The concept and the implementation of enabling factors emerged from the behavioral sciences. Enabling factors are forces that facilitate or impede individual, collective, or environmental change based on their level of availability. Overall, it is helpful to view an enabling factor as a component of a combination of the following forces that, taken together, influence the degree of initiation and continuation of some type of action. First, predisposing factors are more inherent motivational forces (e.g., values and attitudes) that provide reasons for taking a given action; second, enabling factors facilitate or impede such action based on their degree of availability (e.g., health insurance coverage), while reinforcing factors support and potentially reward the action taken (e.g., family encouragement). Such factors are particularly important to consider when behavioral changes are sought for health enhancement. Health-related actions do not occur in a vacuum; rather, they result from an array of inherent behavioral influences interfaced with external environmental forces. Sorting out the behavioral influences provides the public health practitioner with insight to assist in taking the next appropriate steps. The planning models described in this article take these factors and forces into consideration. Of note, enabling factors can be considered intrinsic or extrinsic. Individual perceptions and positive internal perspectives relate to the more internal, or intrinsic, types of enabling factors. Options of choice regarding types of engagement activities, along with experiencing supportive environments, individuals, and incentives, represent the more external, or extrinsic, types of enabling factors.
The following works not only describe enabling factors, but also provide examples of their use in context. They include reviews in which enabling factors make up part of planning models, theoretical frameworks, and case studies. An historical perspective over time, Last 2005 explores the role of environmental and lifestyle influences on health outcomes, while clear examples are provided in Doyle and Ward 2001, particularly with regard to the development of objectives used in health program development. Within this context, one of the most highly regarded and widely used models, the PRECEDE–PROCEED approach, is explained in Green and Kreuter 2005. The PRECEDE–PROCEED model was first developed by Lawrence W. Green in Green 1974 as PRECEDE, and relatively more recently with the addition of PROCEED by Lawrence W. Green and Marshall W. Kreuter (Green and Kreuter 2005). The first three letters in PRECEDE refer to predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors influencing behavioral activity. Green and Kreuter 2005 describes enabling factors as “those skills, resources, or barriers that can help or hinder the desired behavioral changes as well as environmental changes. One can view them as vehicles or barriers, created mainly by societal forces or systems” (p. 15). The authors point out that skills that are required for the intended behavior also can be considered enabling factors. A helpful example of such a skill would be a person knowing how to properly use a sphygmomanometer for a hypertension self-care program. Overall, the authors explain that it is helpful “to think of enabling factors as those that make possible a change that people want in behavior or in the environment” (p. 15). Applications of enabling factors as inherent elements in practical planning models are clarified in Gielen, et al. 2008 and Ramirez, et al. 2007 from the community and interpersonal perspectives, and in Parker and Sommer 2011 from more global vantage points. From a health promotion vantage point, Well-Being Concepts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an overview of the determinants of individual-level well-being from an array of study findings.
Doyle, E., and S. Ward. 2001. The process of community health education and promotion. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
Helpful practical examples of enabling factors are provided by these authors, in one instance citing that “regular exercise will be easier to maintain if exercise resources, such as a safe and convenient place to jog or engage in recreational sports, are available and accessible. Because improper exercise can cause needless muscle soreness and injury, adolescents also need training in appropriate exercise skills” (p. 135).
Gielen, A. C., E. M. McDonald, T. L. Gary, and L. R. Bone. 2008. Using the PRECEDE-PROCEED model to apply health behavior theories. In Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice. 4th ed. Edited by K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, and K. Viswanath, 405–433. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Using a definition of “model” as drawing on several theories to advance understanding, the authors address enabling factors as an inherent part of the educational and ecological assessment phase in the PRECEDE–PROCEED model. Careful attention is given to the application of the model at the community, interpersonal, and individual levels. In particular, the educational and ecological assessment phase is aligned with key theories and models.
Green, L. W. 1974. Toward cost-benefit evaluations of health education: Some concepts, methods, and examples. Health Education Monographs 2 (Suppl. 1): 34–65.
This article serves as a grounding document that includes reference to enabling factors as derived from the work of Ronald Andersen (R. M. Andersen, A Behavioral Model of Families’ Use of Health Services. Research Series 25 [Chicago: Center for Health Administration Studies, Univ. of Chicago, 1968]), who addressed enabling resources from the behavioral model of families’ use of health services.
Green, L. W., and M. W. Kreuter. 2005. Health program planning: An educational and ecological approach. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Green and Kreuter formally define an enabling factor as “any characteristic of the environment that facilitates action and any skill or resource required to attain a specific behavior,” (p. G-3). In a preliminary manner, enabling factors are many times described and addressed within the context of facilitation and what are known as predisposing factors, which motivate behaviors to take place. Enabling factors are related to the “process” of behavioral activity.
Last, J. 2005. A brief history of advances toward health. In Understanding the global dimensions of health. Edited by S. W. A. Gunn, P. B. Mansourian, A. M. Davies, A. Piel, and B. M. Sayers, 3–14. New York: Springer.
Last uses the context of the broad sweep of health and history. Along the way, he reminds us that our “new” perspectives on health-related influences are not limited solely to present-day issues (e.g., Hippocrates in 460–370 BCE addressed epidemics using case records of diseases such as tetanus, rabies, and mumps, coupled with the influences of airs, waters, and places related to environmental health). Lifestyle influences are included.
Parker, R., and M. Sommer. 2011. Routledge handbook of global public health. New York: Routledge.
The editors provide a useful overview of current and emerging public health issues that are influenced by a myriad of factors. Ten sections guide the discussion, covering the emergence of global health issues (as distinguished from international health, which involves sovereign states and their boundaries). All of the sections explore the influences on specific health issues to include the outcomes.
Ramirez, A. G., P. Chalela, K. Gallion, and L. F. Velez. 2007. Energy balance feasibility study for Latinas in Texas: A qualitative assessment. Preventing Chronic Disease 4.4.
Ramirez, et al. address the health issue of the nearly two-thirds of the population in the United States considered to be overweight or obese. They investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about nutrition and exercise of Latinas aged forty years or older who were living in a low-income area of Houston, Texas. Enabling factors related to physical activity included learning about the benefits of exercise.
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review addresses the determinants of individual-level well-being (meaningful positive outcomes to include social, economic, and personal development) using multiple study findings. Included in the review are the impacts of genetic factors and personality factors, paid employment, and supportive relationships (one of the strongest predictors of well-being), among others.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Culture and Public Health
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Foundations
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Exposure to Benzene
- Occupational Exposure to Erionite
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Resilient Health Systems
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- School Health Programs in the Pacific Region
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- STI Networks, Patterns, and Control Strategies
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Modeling and Big Data for Non-Communicable Disease...
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Welfare States, Public Health and Health Inequalities
- Worksite Health Promotion
- World Health Organization (WHO)