The Theory of Reasoned Action was developed in 1967 that looks at the expectations of the person who performs the behavior (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975). The job of the person using this model is basing their outcomes on what the person or group expects will happen, not what they think should happen. This points back to perceptions. Even if I believe the outcome to a behavioral intervention will be positive, the person may have beliefs which has them thinking otherwise. In public health we can assume anything about any group we are working with.
One of the most common questions I am asked in terms of my research is “Why didn’t you study [insert group]?” It can be hard to understand why I would pick a certain group to study and not others. First, when you are doing any scientific research project, you have to narrow your focus. In this case I narrowed my field to one type of immigrant. To include other types of immigrants would have taken too long to pursue. It’s better to focus your study and get better results for one group than it is to do too many groups at once. Not saying you can’t, but I wanted to graduate in some reasonable time frame and I did not have grant funding to pay for my time.
The next article in a series of health education model critiques is the Health Belief Model. This model attempts to explain what beliefs and perceptions will prompt someone to promote or not perform a health behavior. The model was developed in the 1950’s by Godfrey Hochbaum, Irwin Rosenstock, Stephen Kegeles, and Howard Leventhal (Janz & Becker, 1984). Understanding the perceptions of the health behavior is key to understanding why someone will or will not do it.
There are many different models that someone can use to develop and implement a public health education campaign. The University of Texas El Paso listed 26 different models that could be used. I’m not going to go through each model here, but over the next several weeks, I will write a post about some of these models and why I feel they need to go further to include diverse populations.
I’ll start with the Social Learning Theory. This theory states that a person learns through modeling the behavior change in others (Bandura, 1971). How to we best model behavior? A person would need to see someone like themselves modeling the correct behavior. Think about a major movie star or sports star doing something on television or the Internet, if this highly successful person is doing it, maybe I should do it too. That can lead to both good and bad behaviors depending on what is seen. One major problem is, the star may not care about the outcome.
One of the instrumental parts of my research is Dr. Peter Sandman’s Risk Equation: Risk = Hazard + Outrage. I’m not going to rehash the basics of the equation here. To learn more about what the equation is all about, Dr. Sandman does a great job on his website explaining it. I want to spend some time talking about how his risk equation can be applied to diverse populations.
I had the pleasure of presenting my dissertation work at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Conference along with Madiha Tariq from ACCESS. She did a great job introducing what ACCESS does and Arab Americans in Michigan. I was great to share my research and the best part was seeing all of the agencies that wanted to start partnering with ACCESS.