The health belief model was developed by Irwin M. Rosenstock in 1966 and it studies the way health behaviours change. The health belief model (HBM) suggests that the likelihood of someone developing a certain health behaviour depends on their belief of the effectiveness of the behaviour in reducing the risk of a health problem and their belief of the risk of developing a health problem. People who believe they are susceptible to a health problem will engage in behaviours that reduce their risk of developing the health problem.
For example, we can consider the decision to receive or not receive a flu shot. The HBM would suggest that whether or not someone gets a flu shot would depend on how effective they think the shot would be and how much of a risk they are at for getting the flu if they don't get the flu shot. The implications of this model tell us what we can do to promote certain health behaviours. For example, if we wanted more people to take the flu shot we would want to improve the perceived effectiveness of the flu shot. The decision can be broken down into four main factors:
- How likely will I get the flu without a vaccine?
- How serious is contracting the flu?
- What barriers are there to getting a flu shot (money, time, etc...)?
- How effective is the flu shot? These four factors are often called perceived susceptibility, severity, barriers, and benefits respectively.