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The Health Belief Model

The Health Belief Model

This model was developed to help explain health behaviours. However there are elements that can be generalised to other areas of a hypnotist’s work. It was developed from Kurt Lewin’s ‘field theory’, a phenomenological approach which advocated that behaviour is influenced by the individual’s characteristics and environment.

The theory states that we live in a ‘life space’ of regions of both positive and negative value and forces attract and repel us from these. Illness is a region of negative value and hence we are motivated to avoid it most of the time and this forms a central tenet of the HBM.
Rosenstock (1990) states that ‘for more than three decades, the model has been one of the most influential and widely used psychosocial approaches to explaining health-related behaviour’. The model hypothesises that people will not seek (preventive) health measures unless:

  • They possess minimal levels of health motivation and knowledge
  • They view themselves as potentially vulnerable
  • They view the condition as threatening
  • They are convinced of the efficacy of the ‘treatment’
  • They see few difficulties in undertaking the action

These factors can be modified by socio-economic and demographic factors as well as cues to action such as media campaigns or the illness of a close friend or relative.

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