Wayne County population faced a range of health and safety concerns in 1996 that include sexually-transmitted diseases (STD), accidents, heart diseases, cancer, and others. The health assessment found that heart diseases contribute to the highest mortality. Health promotion through approaches such as health education and media campaign is an effective intervention for improving the health profile of Wayne County. Health interventions are usually guided by various theories.
Theories Guiding the Interventions
Social Cognitive Theory can effectively guide the health interventions of health problems in Wayne County. The approach to undertaking health promotion is anchored on the factors influencing behaviour change. Indeed, health promotion seeks to encourage the targeted population to adopt positive health behaviours while abandoning the undesirable and unhealthy behaviours. For behaviour change to occur, many factors are involved. For instance, informing people of the dangers and risk of HIV/AIDS infection does not necessarily result in the adoption of behaviours that help prevent HIV infection. Instead, the interventions aimed at reducing HIV infection should focus on all factors that are likely to influence the adoption of healthy behaviours. Social Cognitive Theory integrates relatively more underpinning factors of behaviour change. Indeed, Social Cognitive Theory is not simplistic. It highlights nearly all the factors involved in behaviour change. Consequently, it was chosen to guide the intervention. In addition, some studies have shown that various concepts of the theory are effective in predicting behaviour change. For instance, a study conducted by Palmeira and colleagues (2007) that sought to predict the short-term weight loss using four health behaviour change theories found that the theories that incorporate self-efficacy are relatively more effective in predicting weight loss.
The objectives of the health promotion intervention include encouraging behaviours that reduce the risk of developing health problems reported in the county and discouraging health-risky behaviours. In short, health promotion is mainly intended to promote behaviours that prevent the occurrence of the health problems in the County. The intervention seeks to employ media approaches to providing messages that inform and influences people to adopt healthy behaviours. Through the media, the intervention seeks to provide the resources needed to adopt the preferred behaviours: motivation, self-efficacy, and social support among others. In this sense, the intervention is linked to the social cognitive theory.
Social Cognitive Theory can help drive health promotion strategies in Wayne County in the sense that some of its concepts can provide the basis on which the activities of the health promotion intervention can be developed. Two elements of the theory, outcome expectations and modelling, work well with health promotion intervention. The concept of observational learning/modelling can be relied on in developing messages intended for community education. In this case, advertisements featuring celebrities are very effective since celebrities have a great influence on the masses. Celebrities also act as models for many people in the society. Consequently, using celebrities in advertisements help promote healthy behavior change among the target population. The intervention can also exploit the consequences of certain health-related behaviours to influence the intention of the target population to adopt the preferred behavior. For example, activities such as creating awareness of the severity, risk factors, and burden attributed to certain health-related behaviours among the targeted population can help influence the intention of the targeted population to adopt the preferred behavior. However, some elements of the Social Cognitive Theory do not apply to the intervention. For instance, perceived self-efficacy and self-regulation do not apply to the intervention since the intervention focuses on the community. The two concepts would have been applicable if the intervention were to be undertaken at the individual level.
Other theories commonly applicable to community health interventions aimed at promoting healthy behaviours include the Theory of Reasoned Action and Health Believe Model. The theory of Reasoned Action was rejected because it seems to suggest the ability to adopt a new behaviour is under an individual’s control (Mackinnon, 2003; Ambasa-Shisanya, 2009). The theory fails to recognize the role that economic, environmental, and political factors play in influencing behavior change. On the other hand, Health Believe Model was rejected because it only focuses on individual factors. Therefore, it is not applicable to interventions that focus on the community. In addition, the theory assumes that people adopt new health behaviours through conscious and rational thinking. However, this is not the case. Instead, some choices are not rational. Social cognitive theory, on the other hand, recognizes the role played by psychosocial, economic, cultural, and political factors in influencing behavior change.
Health promotion as an intervention for the health problems experienced in Wayne County seeks to encourage behaviour change among the population of the county. Social Cognitive Theory provides the most appropriate guidance for the intervention since it integrates nearly all the underpinning factors for behavior change. The theory fills the gaps left by the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Health Believe Model. However, not all the elements of the Social Cognitive Theory apply to health promotion interventions targeting the community. However, all the elements of the theory apply to multilevel interventions.
Ambasa-Shisanya, C. R. (2009). Cultural determinants of adoption of HIV/AIDS prevention measures, and strategies among girls, and women in western Kenya. Addis Ababa: Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa. P.34.
Mackinnon, L. T. (2003). Exercise management: Concepts and professional practice. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics. P.76Top of Form.
Palmeira, A. L., Teixeira, P. J., Branco, T. L., Martins, S. S., Minderico, C. S., Barata, J. T., & Sardinha, L. B. (2007). Predicting short-term weight loss using four leading health behavior change theories. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4(1), 14.Top of Form