The Health Belief Model for changing health behaviors is a type of intervention strategy used in individual and public health settings that proposes that people will take preventative behavior change action seriously based on their beliefs and perceptions of a significant risk to their health if action is not taken.
The HBM, when used in counseling and coaching, utilizes an evoking technique with a series of questions to have a person evaluate their perceived susceptibility to a health condition, perceived severity of a poor health outcome, perceived benefits of making changes, perceived barriers to making changes, the cues of action or feelings of the need to take action, and their self-efficacy or confidence in their ability to make a behavior change.
[Image Source: Theoretical Foundation of Health Education and Health Promotion 2nd Edition]
An evoking technique, sometimes called motivational interviewing, is used to help a person evaluate and understand the importance of a behavior change while respecting a persons need for autonomy and mastery and may help a person talk through their perceptions and potential barriers towards a needed health behavior change.
Motivational interviewing is a collaborative approach to counseling that utilizes open ended questions to empower change by drawing out an individual’s feelings and capacity toward change.
When combining the HBM with motivational interviewing, a coach or counselor can help a person understand the importance of making a health behavior change while helping them reinforce their motivation by talking through those motivations, and then helping make an action plan based on the perceived barriers and confidence in their ability to overcome the barriers.
The efficacy of the HBM in conjunction with motivational interviewing is very good for changing health behaviors surrounding medication adherence, diet adherence, vaccination adherence, health screening, disease prevention, and in the prediction and promotion of healthy behaviors.
Though the HBM with motivational interviewing has been deemed effective for the prediction and promotion of health behaviors, there is limited evidence for its effectiveness in treating chronic depression or substance abuse so cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based treatments may be more effective than the HBM for those health issues.
In conclusion, the HBM helps a person solidify their perceptions toward a needed health behavior change and can be effective for a coach or counselor to help outline the actions and motivations needed to make those healthy changes.