The Health Belief Model

This model looks at the patient’s reasons for presenting to a health care professional. It describes the influences and thoughts behind why patients present, and crucially why they present at that particular moment in their lives.

It has FIVE main elements:

One – health motivation

People’s interest in their health and the degree to which they are motivated to change it varies enormously.

Two – perceived vulnerability

When considering specific health problems, people think very differently about how likely they are to be affected. For example people who think that they are at high risk of developing lung cancer are more likely to follow advice about giving up smoking.

Three – perceived seriousness

Patients vary in how dire they believe the consequences of contracting a particular illness, or of leaving it untreated, would be.

Four – perceived costs and benefits

Patients weigh up advantages and disadvantages of taking any particular course of action, not necessarily taking all of the relevant considerations into account, but making an evaluation none the less.

Five – cues to action

Patient’s beliefs do not already exist in a pre-packaged form. They are prompted or created by a number of stimuli and triggers (cues) such as physical sensation, what granny said, etc.

Reference: Doctor’s Communication Handbook, Peter Tate

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