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Health Behavior Change Model: Health Belief Model (HBM)

Originated by: Katherine Margolis

Submitted: 02 Aug 2011

Last updated on: 2 Aug 2011

Related Health Topics:


One of the earliest and most popular theories of health behavior was the Health Belief Model (HBM). This model was originally developed by researchers looking to explain why people did not participate in programs to prevent and detect disease (NCI, 2005). Today, it has been applied to a wide array of health behaviors and settings. According to the HBM, six main constructs influence people’s decisions about whether to take action including: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cues to action and self-efficacy (NCI, 2005).

Key Variables

The key variables of the HBM are:

  • Perceived susceptibility: One’s perception of the chance of contracting an illness (Janz & Becker, 1984)
  • Perceived severity: Feelings concerning the seriousness of contracting an illness. This may include both medical and social consequences (Janz & Becker, 1984)
  • Perceived benefits: The beliefs about the effectiveness of taking action (NCI, 2005)
  • Perceived barriers: the beliefs about the negative consequences of taking action (Janz & Becker, 1984)
  • Cues to Action: Include factors that activate or remind an individual about readiness to change (NCI, 2005)
  • Self-efficacy: How confident an individual is in his/her ability to take action (NCI, 2005)


Janz, N. K. & Becker, M.H. The health belief model: A decade later. Health education Quarterly 1984 Vol 11(1): 1 – 47. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6392204

NCI Theory at a Glance. 2005. Accessed on August 2, 2011 from: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/theory.pdf

Learn more about the Health Belief Model (HBM):

Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice

Using the Health Belief Model in Different Fields

Applying Health Beliefs Model to Adult ADHD Treatment Decisions

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