The Health Belief Model Essay

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The Health Belief Model (HBM) of health behaviour change was originally developed in the 1950s in order to understand and explain why vaccination and screening programs being implemented at the time were not meeting with success (Edberg 2007). It was later extended to account for preventive health actions and illness behaviours (Roden 2004). Succinctly, it suggests that behaviour change is influenced by an individuals’ assessment of the benefits and achievability of the change versus the cost of it (Naidoo and Wills 2000).

For the purposes of this assignment, the author has been provided with an example client, Thomas. In order to better explain the workings of the HBM, the author will relate back to Thomas in discussing this model and
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As healthcare professionals or “experts”, nurses can often, with the best of intentions, deprive clients of autonomy by monopolising their care, believing that we are acting in their best interests. In Thomas’ case we could identify his smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, low motivation and possible unresolved grief stemming from the death of his daughter as problems. However, the essence of the Health Belief Model is that of empowerment, we act as facilitators to support our clients in identifying areas they may wish to change (Kiger 2004). While still undoubtedly the experts, we do not use our knowledge to hold ourselves apart, but to act as facilitators and catalysts for changing to more positive health behaviours. Thomas’ perceptions of his problems may be very different to our own, or he may feel unable to change. So the issue for the practitioner becomes not, “how do we fix the problem?” but, “how do we assist our clients in identifying problem areas they may wish to change and empower them to make that change?” In order to see how this may be achieved, the author will now discuss the HBM as a framework to enable a nurse to assist clients in this manner.

The HBM is founded on four perceptions or core constructs. The first is that of perceived seriousness. This relates to an individuals’ perception of the severity of an illness, not just in medical terms but also possibly in terms of its’ effect on their lives or livelihood (Edberg 2007). If Thomas does
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