What Is The Health Belief Model (HBM) And How Can You Apply It To Your Health Goals? (2023)

The Health Belief Model, otherwise known as the HBM, is a methodology scientists and medical professionals use to attempt to predict, understand, and adjust health behaviors.

So, what exactly is the Health Belief Model, and how can you apply it to your life and your health goals?

Originally developed in the 1950s by two social psychologists Godfrey H. Hochbaum and Irwin M. Rosenstock. The two psychologists were working in the U.S. Public Health Service and, with the help of other social scientists, developed the Health Belief Model to explain that people were failing to participate in programs that could help prevent and detect their diseases.

What is the Health Belief Model (HBM) Based On?

The HBM has been updated in recent years, to address societal changes in how people approach their health and well-being. Essentially, this model is based on the idea that a person’s willingness, or ability to improve their health behaviors, is linked to their own perceptions - especially perceptions of their limitations.

For instance, the Health Belief Model suggests we’re more likely to take positive actions to improve our well-being, when we believe the following:

· We’re equipped to make meaningful, successful changes and confident we can do so

· The barriers to changing our behaviors are low, or limitations are not severe

· The information available to guide our decisions is compelling

· Benefits associated with these wellness activities are significant

· How susceptible to health problems we think we are is significant

(Video) The Health Belief Model

· The consequences of failing to perform certain actions are believed to be severe

Used correctly, the health belief model not only assists caregivers in promoting healthy behaviors, but it can also be a valuable tool in pushing yourself towards your own personal goals.

The Components of the Health Belief Model

The health belief model is rooted in psychology. It lets us know that how we feel and think about certain risks, limitations and opportunities connected to our health will influence our actions towards taking care of our health.

Originally, this model was developed to assist scientists in understanding how and why individuals will seek out specific health services and ignore others. For instance, the health belief model could help healthcare providers understand why some people are more likely to adhere to COVID testing requirements, and why others may avoid vaccinations.

There are currently six primary components to the HBM. Four were developed when the theory was first established in the 1950s, while the additional two were introduced in the 1980s when the model was updated.

Below are the six components of the Health Belief Model:

1. Perceived Severity

The Health Belief Model suggests the probability of a person changing their activities or health behaviors is greater when they believe the consequences of not doing so are severe. Again, it’s all about individual perception. For instance, if you’re starting a new job and get a cold on your first day, you’re unlikely to call in sick, because you’re likely to believe the consequences of missing work are greater than staying at home.

Similarly, if you’re young and in love, you’d be less likely to consider using condoms if you perceived an STD as a minor inconvenience, rather than a life-changing condition. This is why governments and health organizations heavily promoted messages about safe sex, and the dangers of STDs during the AIDS epidemic.

Notably, studies suggest that perceived risk or severity is one of the least powerful predictors of whether people will engage in behaviors related to preventing illness. This could be because we believe the short-term benefits of an action outweigh the potential risk.

(Video) The Health Belief Model ( and how to make it work for you! )

What Is The Health Belief Model (HBM) And How Can You Apply It To Your Health Goals? (1)

2. Perceived Susceptibility to Illness or Perceived Health Risks

People will generally only alter their health behaviors when they consider themselves to be directly at risk of a certain disease, or ailment. If you don’t have a history of diabetes in your family, you may assume you’re not susceptible to this condition, and therefore take fewer precautions with your diet.

The younger you are, the more likely you are to feel less susceptible to certain ailments. Many young people assume they won’t fall victim to skin or lung cancer, so they’re less worried about smoking or exposing themselves to the sun.

Unfortunately, this often means many people engage in dangerous activities when they’re younger, due to a misinformed sense of being ‘invincible’.

You may also believe you’re not susceptible to certain health problems if you’re not aware of the health risks embedded in your DNA. If you’re not aware of genetic health conditions that run in your family, you might be less careful. This is why it’s so helpful to use your CircleDNA test to read about your genetic health risks.

3. Perceived Benefits

Many of the decisions we make in life are based on a cost-risk analysis. We determine whether the benefits of certain actions will outweigh any potential downsides or barriers. For instance, working out in the morning could be associated with significant drawbacks, such as reduced time in bed. However, it can also increase your energy, metabolic function, and focus for the rest of the day.

Proponents of the Health Belief Model suggest the benefits of a healthy activity need to be clear and compelling to gain our attention. If you believe getting vaccinated will protect you and your loved ones, and ensure you can continue to go to work and earn an income, you’re more likely to do it.

How compelling the benefits of an action will be is often linked to how effective you think the activities are. For instance, if you believe eating more vegetables might improve your immunity, but you’re not convinced, you’re more likely to avoid doing it.

What Is The Health Belief Model (HBM) And How Can You Apply It To Your Health Goals? (2)

4. Perceived Barriers

We often perpetuate unhealthy behaviors because we believe changing our actions is difficult. If you want to lose weight, you’ll know that changing your diet, avoiding certain foods, and exercising more regularly will be challenging. Changing health behaviors can also require us to invest both time and money into our actions.

The Health Behavior Model suggests the greater the perceived barriers to an activity are, the more we’ll avoid it. Sometimes, it’s not just the physical difficulty of doing something that affects our behavior, but also psychological difficulties. For example, if you’re afraid you’ll be judged by fitter individuals when visiting the gym, you might give up on your resolutions to lose weight.

(Video) The health belief model - determinants of health for IB Psychology

Many health initiatives today are carefully promoted to reduce the perceived barriers to change. When the COVID pandemic hit, medical centers started introducing temporary testing buildings and facilities to ensure people could easily assess their systems without traveling long distances.

5. Cues to Action

This component of the Health Belief Model was introduced in the 1980s. It looks at the fact that sometimes, even if people want to change their behaviors for the better, they still may fail to do so without a little nudging.

Cues to action are used by healthcare practitioners to effectively push people into taking positive steps towards bettering their health. You might see posters for COVID testing on the walls of the offices and public transportation networks in your town. These are intended to motivate you to act.

Advertisements on the radio and television can encourage people to get their flu jab during the colder months of the year. Some doctors even send emails and SMS messages to patients, reminding them to schedule screenings, or appointments for specific conditions.

6. Self-Efficacy

This component was added to the Health Belief Model in 1988. Self-efficacy looks at a person’s belief that they actually have the ability to make a health-related change. Some of us believe we’re simply not strong enough to take certain actions. For instance, you might think you don’t have the willpower to lose weight or quit smoking.

Our faith in our ability to achieve our goals significantly influences whether we’ll pursue changes, or ignore any potential consequences of our behaviors. For example, one study found women who were confident in their ability to breastfeed were more likely to nurse their children for longer.

While it’s difficult for healthcare providers to provide us with the confidence we need to change our actions, many offer support, tips, and guidance, to encourage self-efficacy.

How to Use the Health Belief Model to Achieve Your Goals

Over the years, the Health Belief Model has formed many of the core components of effective health interventions and initiatives. Medical experts and scientists have worked together to encourage people to eat more nutritional foods, avoid certain ingredients, get more exercise, and seek out vaccinations.

Using the health belief model, yourself means thinking carefully about the mindset you have when it comes to certain health behaviors. By altering your thought patterns, accessing additional information, and motivating yourself to make positive changes, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals.

(Video) Health Belief Model, MPH student lesson

Here’s how you might be able to use the Health Belief Model to achieve your own targets. For the purpose of this example, we’ll assume your goal is to achieve a healthy weight:

· Perceived severity: Researching and understanding the negative repercussions of obesity or being overweight can help you to grasp just how problematic the issue can be. Read up on the dangers of abdominal fat, think about how your weight affects your self-esteem, and make a list of perceived dangers. You might list issues such as confidence problems, fatigue, an increased risk of chronic illness, and even the expenses associated with overeating.

· Perceived susceptibility to illness: If you’re already overweight, your perceived susceptibility will focus on your chances of experiencing the side-effects of obesity. Make sure you understand how a small amount of excess weight can alter any person’s life. If you’re currently at a healthy weight, use your Circle DNA test to determine how susceptible you might be to gaining weight. This can help to encourage you to create the right diet and exercise plan.

· Perceived benefits: Just as you have a list of potential dangers to increased weight to guide you, it’s also possible to list the benefits of losing weight for motivation. Losing weight can improve your physical and mental health, reduce feelings of fatigue, and boost your self-esteem. It could help you to lead a longer, happier life.

· Cues to action: Implementing your own cues to action means consistently pushing yourself to take positive steps towards your goals. Add a calendar to your fridge with milestone dates for when you want to lose a specific amount of weight. Use reminders on your phone to tell you when to exercise, and consider asking your friends and family to motivate you. Commit to regularly weighing yourself so you can track your progress.

· Self-Efficacy: To achieve self-efficacy within the Health Belief Model, you need to commit to regular positive thinking. Challenge any thoughts that you can’t do it. Even if you don’t achieve your goals as quickly as you’d hope, remind yourself constantly of the accomplishments you have achieved. Believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you need extra support.

Can the Health Belief Model Change Your Life?

The Health Belief Model is already being used to great effect by healthcare leaders and experts around the world. Although this model doesn’t account for all factors which might influence your behavior, such as environmental and economic conditions, it does provide a clear insight into why we might act in certain ways.

Using the Health Belief Model, you can educate yourself on the barriers and issues that may be preventing you from making positive change. You can also commit to using more of the right resources to guide you towards your targets. For instance, using your CircleDNA test, you’ll be able to determine just how susceptible you are to certain hereditary health conditions, how severe those ailments may be, and what the benefits could be if you make changes and adopt preventative habits.

Your DNA test will also provide you with tips and guidance to overcome potential barriers, and cues to action in the form of step-by-step advice. Order your CircleDNA test today, and give yourself an advantage in applying the Health Belief Model to achieve your health goals.

(Video) Health Belief and Transtheoretical Models - Fundamentals of Nursing | @LevelUpRN


  1. Champion, V. L., & Skinner, C. S. (2008). The health belief model. In K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, & K. Viswanath (Eds.), Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 45–65). Jossey-Bass.
  2. Historical Origins of the Health Belief Model https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/109019817400200403
  3. The Health Belief Model as an Explanatory Framework in Communication Research: Exploring Parallel, Serial, and Moderated Mediation https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10410236.2013.873363?cookieSet=1
  4. Maternal Breastfeeding Self‐Efficacy and the Breastfeeding Behaviors of Newborns in the Practice of Exclusive Breastfeeding https://www.jognn.org/article/S0884-2175(15)31317-4/fulltext


How you would use the HBM in your nursing practice? ›

Health Belief Model as Nursing Tool

Nurses can use this model to clarify patients' perceptions of risk and why they behave in a way that is harmful; this enables nurses to apply strategies that influence patients to make healthy lifestyle changes. Patients' perceptions can be affected by age, sex, and personality.

What should be considered when using the Health Belief Model HBM? ›

The Health Belief Model (HBM) hypothesizes that health-related behavior depends on the combination of several factors, namely, perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cues to action, and self-efficacy.

How can the Health Belief Model be used for mental health? ›

The HBM may be useful to predict the frequency of seeking treatment by individuals for depression. However, individualized intervention strategies targeting different aspects of the HBM are needed to promote help‐seeking behaviors in young adults with depression.

What is the Health Belief Model explained simply? ›

The Health Belief Model states that people's beliefs influence their health-related actions or behaviors. Individuals will likely take action when experiencing a personal threat or risk, but only if the benefits of taking action outweigh the barriers, whether real or perceived.

What is an example of the Health Belief Model in exercise? ›

For example, people can change their behavior and start exercising if, 1) they are really concerned about their health, 2) they believe that by not exercising they can suffer from some illnesses and, 3) that suffering from those illnesses is very serious leading to a low quality of life or death ... ...

What are the advantages of Health Belief Model? ›

Advantages of Health Belief Model (HBM):

This comprehensive methodology scrutinizes a person's beliefs, opinions, and views particularly in respect to health care in a further holistic approach in contrast with other models. It familiarizes theories from behavior disciplines to inspect health complications.

What are the strengths of the Health Belief Model? ›

Strengths. The main strength of the HBM is its use of simplified health-related constructs that make it easy to implement, apply, and test (Conner, 2010). The HBM has provided a useful theoretical framework for investigating the cognitive determinants of a wide range of behaviors for over three decades.

Is the Health Belief Model effective? ›

The HBM proved effective in the past in describing a wide range of preventive behaviors for diseases and behaviors that are well documented, increase the probability of early detection of diseases and for which implications of any behavior changes are generally well understood (Carpenter, 2010; Sulat et al., 2018).

Why is health beliefs important? ›

Acquiring a better awareness of a patient's health beliefs may help healthcare providers identify gaps between their own and the patient's understanding of his or her health situation. Consequently, this may lead to treatment choices more acceptable to the patient's expectations and needs.

What are core beliefs and how do they affect your health? ›

What Are Core Beliefs and How Do They Affect Your Health? Core beliefs are foundational thoughts and assumptions that we have about ourselves and the world around us. Your core beliefs can impact every aspect of your life, from self-image to career aspirations to your sense of what's right and wrong.

Why are models of mental health important? ›

A good understanding of the different theoretical models is essential when working in the field of mental health. Not only does it help with understanding experiences of mental health difficulties and to find meaning, but it also provides a framework for expanding our knowledge of the field.

How do health beliefs influence health? ›

The beliefs and attributions that people hold can influence their health by affecting their behaviour (such as attendance at a screening programme; the food they eat; whether they take prescribed medication), or more directly by affecting a physiological system (such as the immune or cardiovascular systems).

What are 5 examples of beliefs? ›

Let's put things into perspective — Here are some examples of core beliefs that many people think and feel in society today;
  • Murder is wrong.
  • Love is good.
  • You should help people in need.
  • You shouldn't lie.
  • You should brush your teeth.
  • You should be nice to people.
  • Giving it better than receiving.
  • Stealing is bad.
Nov 16, 2020

What are the 3 major health belief systems? ›

Three major health belief systems (biomedical, naturalistic, and magico-religious) are presented with emphasis on their influential power with respect to health care practices. Underestimating the power of culture may be harmful to the health of the client.

What are the 6 components of the Health Belief Model? ›

As one of the most widely applied theories of health behavior (Glanz & Bishop, 2010), the Health Belief Model (HBM) posits that six constructs predict health behavior: risk susceptibility, risk severity, benefits to action, barriers to action, self-efficacy, and cues to action (Becker, 1974; Champion & Skinner, 2008; ...

What is the main concern in Health Belief Model? ›

The HBM suggests that a person's belief in a personal threat of an illness or disease together with a person's belief in the effectiveness of the recommended health behavior or action will predict the likelihood the person will adopt the behavior.

What role do your beliefs play in your health care decision making? ›

The challenge for health professionals is in understanding that patients often turn to their religious and spiritual beliefs when making medical decisions. Religion and spirituality can impact decisions regarding diet, medicines based on animal products, modesty, and the preferred gender of their health providers.

How do your core beliefs impact you or how you see yourself? ›

Core beliefs are very important to a person, because they determine to what degree you see yourself as worthy, safe, competent, powerful, and loved. Negative beliefs about yourself are deadly to your self-acceptance and self-esteem.

How does beliefs affect your life? ›

As Scott learned, our beliefs shape our thinking, which influences our behavior. When the gap between what we say and what we really do narrows, tough decisions become easier. High-stakes situations demand that we make our decisions based on our core values — the intersection of what we believe and how we behave.

How does beliefs affect you as an individual? ›

They affect how you think, what you do and how you do it. Your background, upbringing, experiences and relationships will all have played a part in the way you see things. Sometimes your attitudes and beliefs could lead you to assume things about people that are not right or fair.

How can learning about mental models improve your way of thinking? ›

Mental models also guide your perception and behavior. They are the thinking tools that you use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Learning a new mental model gives you a new way to see the world—like Richard Feynman learning a new math technique. Mental models are imperfect, but useful.

What are the most important values in mental health? ›

Other core values can include dependability, reliability, commitment, loyalty, consistency, open-mindedness, and spiritual belief of some kind. Examples of core values in mental health treatment may lead to thinking of the importance of family or the idea that honesty and integrity matter, even in the little things.

What can you do to model and demonstrate mentally healthy behaviors? ›

  • Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. ...
  • Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. ...
  • Surround yourself with good people: ...
  • Give yourself: ...
  • Learn how to deal with stress: ...
  • Quiet your mind: ...
  • Set realistic goals: ...
  • Break up the monotony:

What is belief in your own words? ›

A belief is something that you believe or accept as true. You might believe something based on a fact, an opinion or an assumption. When you believe something you might not have immediate personal knowledge but you are satisfied that something is the way it is.

What is a basic belief example? ›

Properly basic beliefs are not based on some other beliefs; rather they are part of the foundations of a person's system of beliefs. Examples of properly basic beliefs: Reality of the past; Existence of the external world; Presence of other minds like our own.

What values or beliefs will guide you to reach your goals? ›

29 Skills, Beliefs, and Core Values on Achieving Success
  • honest.
  • positive attitude.
  • good listener.
  • asks great questions.
  • seeks referrals.
  • strong self-esteem and a big ego.
  • disciplined and focused.
  • effective time or self-manager.
Jan 24, 2014

What is the Health Belief Model in nursing practice? ›

The Health Belief Model is a theoretical model that can be used to guide health promotion and disease prevention programs. It is used to explain and predict individual changes in health behaviors. It is one of the most widely used models for understanding health behaviors.

What is the importance of health promotion model in nursing? ›

The Health Promotion Model aims to explain the factors underlying motivation to engage in health-promoting behaviors and it focuses on people's interactions with their physical and interpersonal environments during attempts to improve health [14].

What is the holistic health model in nursing? ›

Holistic nursing focuses on the mind, body, and spirit working together as a whole and how spiritual awareness in nursing can help heal illness. Holistic medicine focuses on maintaining optimum well-being and preventing rather than just treating disease.

How do nurses implement value-based care? ›

With value-based care, providers receive payment for services that meet criteria such as using evidence-based medicine, increasing patient satisfaction, upgrading health information technology and incorporating data analytics for management strategies that can improve patient outcomes.

How do I apply for health promotion model? ›

Recommendations for Health Promotion Model application
  1. It is necessary to evaluate all health variables to develop proper interventions.
  2. It is vital to consider various limitations.
  3. A plan of action should be based upon the patient's preferences.
  4. A person can modify their own plan of action.

What is the most basic goal of health promotion? ›

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions.

Why are models of health helpful to healthcare professionals? ›

Some benefits of the medical model approach to patient care include: Effective identification of symptoms and analysis to determine a root cause. A treatment-first approach to address concerns for both safety and comfort. An objective approach to narrowing potential conditions to improve diagnostic accuracy.

What is an example of a holistic model of health? ›

Holistic approaches include but are not limited to: acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractic physicians, manual therapy, naturopathic physicians, meditation, guided imagery, yoga, therapeutic touch, reiki and other energy therapies, and ayurveda.

How can I improve my holistic health? ›

Taking care of your physical health
  1. Eat healthy. The food you eat plays a major role in how you feel both physically and mentally. ...
  2. Hydrate. Stress can lead to dehydration symptoms. ...
  3. Drink in moderation. ...
  4. Get enough sleep. ...
  5. Move your body. ...
  6. Just breathe. ...
  7. Go outside. ...
  8. Communicate.

How do nurses provide holistic care? ›

Holistic nurses use alternative medicine to treat patients. Sometimes they combine their holistic healing techniques with traditional medicine.
Types of holistic treatments may include the following:
  • Acupuncture.
  • Aromatherapy.
  • Eastern medicine.
  • Hydrotherapy and balneotherapy.
  • Hypnosis.
  • Massage.
  • Wellness coaching.
Nov 29, 2017

What is a benefit of the value-based care model for patients? ›

Benefits of value-based care are lower costs, higher patient satisfaction, reduced medical errors, better-informed patients. There are six components, such as wide-spanning access to care, to an ​“ideal” high-value healthcare system.

How do you provide value-based care? ›

These five strategies for implementing value-based care are a good place to start.
  1. Identify high-risk patients. In a value-based care arrangement, it's important to identify high-risk patients. ...
  2. Address gaps in care. ...
  3. Leverage technology to track care. ...
  4. Communicate with other clinicians. ...
  5. Share data securely.
Sep 30, 2021

How do you provide value to patients? ›

Ensure staff focus in on the "value statements" patients made from this study such as: being flexible to patients to make timely appointments, demonstrating expertise, being empathetic and demonstrating care by taking time to explain and guide patients, and of course being friendly and helpful as often as possible.


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