Changing Health Behaviors Stages of Readiness
412 Chapter 10 Health, Stress, and Coping As described in the chapter on thought, language, and intelligence, humans tend to underestimate the likelihood of common outcomes and to overestimate the likelihood of rare events. When this tendency causes people to ignore the dangers of smoking and other health-risky behaviors, the results can be disastrous. © Reprinted by permission, Steve Kelley, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans. According to this health-belief model, the people most likely to quit smoking would be those who believe that they are at risk for getting cancer from smoking, that cancer is serious and life threatening, and that the beneﬁts of reducing cancer risks are greater than the costs of quitting (McCaul et al., 2006). Other cognitive factors are emphasized in other health-belief models. For example, people generally do not try to quit smoking unless they believe they can succeed. So self-efﬁcacy, the belief that you are able to perform some behavior, is an additional consideration in making decisions about health behaviors (Armitage, 2005; Bandura, 1992; Dijkstra, DeVries, & Bakker, 1996). A related factor is the intention to engage in a healthy behavior (Albarracin et al., 2001; Schwarzer, 2001; Webb & Sheeran, 2006). Health-belief models have been useful in predicting a variety of health behaviors, including exercise (McAuley, 1992), safe-sex practices (Fisher, Fisher, & Rye, 1995), adherence to doctors’ orders (Bond, Aiken, & Somerville, 1992), and having routine mammogram tests for breast cancer (Champion & Huster, 1995). Changing Health Behaviors: Stages of Readiness Changing health-related behaviors depends not only on a person’s health beliefs but also on that person’s readiness to change. According to James Prochaska and his colleagues, successful change occurs in ﬁve stages (Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992; Schumann et al., 2005): 1. Precontemplation. The person does not perceive a health-related problem and has no intention of changing anytime soon. TA B L E 10.4 Steps for Coping with Stress Many successful programs for systematically coping with stress guide people through several steps and are aimed at removing stressors that can be changed and at reducing responses to stressors that cannot be changed (Taylor, 2002). Step Task 1. Assessment Identify the sources and effects of stress. 2. Goal setting List the stressors and stress responses to be addressed. Designate which stressors are and are not changeable. 3. Planning List the speciﬁc steps to be taken to cope with stress. 4. Action Implement coping plans. 5. Evaluation Determine the changes in stressors and stress responses that have occurred as a result of coping methods. 6. Adjustment Alter coping methods to improve results, if necessary.