Individuals living in the contemporary society are faced with numerous health issues and challenges. Majority of these problems are brought about by the unhealthy behavior and lifestyle associated with the affluent modern society. Consequently, the need for healthy behaviors and demand for health education are growing significantly. It is important to put in place strategic programs to facilitate behavioral changes. Such interventions will encourage people to engage in positive behaviors, resulting in healthy lifestyles.
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According to Glanz, Rimer, and Viswanath (2008), health education focuses on addressing the gap between the existing strategies using in optimizing health and the actual practices. In light of this, health education can be used to bring about behavioral changes within individuals and societies. The intervention can be used to move from detrimental activities to positive practices that favor health.
On its part, healthy behaviors refer to the actions undertaken by individuals or groups with the aim of promoting their wellbeing. Such practices touch on the determinants, correlations, and consequences of health (Glanz et al., 2008). In addition, healthy conduct refers to those personal attributes associated with the maintenance, restoration, and improvement of individual wellbeing (Glanz et al., 2008).
The attributes include beliefs, expectations, desires, goals, attitudes, and other cognitive elements. They also entail personality traits, including affective and emotional statuses and dispositions. Healthy mannerisms also take into consideration explicit behavior patterns, actions, and habits (Glanz et al., 2008).
Going by the above definitions of health education and healthy behaviors, it is apparent that both can be used to address the various issues affecting human society today. In the current paper, the author develops a program to be used in addressing the problems associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health Issues in Contemporary Society: An Overview
The two conditions are a major health concern in the modern society. It is a fact that genetics play a major in the development of diabetes in an individual. However, in spite of this, behavioral practices, such as food consumption, are believed to be major triggers of this disease. Vanderwood, Hall, Harwell, Butcher, and Helgerson (2010) identify a number of behavioral risk factors in relation to diabetes and heart disease. They include, among others, low vegetable and fruit consumption, cigarette smoking, and reduced physical activity.
Cardiovascular disease does not necessarily result from diabetes. However, experts argue that it is one of the major complications arising from the condition. According to Ljung, Olsson, Rask, and Lindahl (2013), type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are the most common public health problems.
It is noted that lifestyle modification can help prevent 80% of the cases (Ljung et al., 2013). Cardiovascular complications have become the leading cause of death globally. To this end, they accounted for 30% of deaths reported in the world in 2008 (Ljung et al., 2013).
The prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases has increased in the last 10 years, especially in the developed countries (Ljung et al., 2013). The situation exerts enormous pressure on existing healthcare systems given that the resources set aside for this sector are not elastic.
As such, promoting healthy behaviors is an important element of the interventions used to address the two conditions. For instance, Vanderwood et al. (2010) propose a framework of health education and healthy behavior among individuals diagnosed with these diseases.
According to Ljung et al. (2013), the prevalence of diabetes mellitus is expected to rise by more than 200 percent between 2000 and 2030. Within this period, the number of reported cases will rise from 171 million to 366 million. The main risk factors associated with these problems are related to individual’s lifestyle. Such predisposing elements include, among others, tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor eating habits.
Factors related to the individual are major drivers behind the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, it is also clear that the society plays a significant role in this development. For example, the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular complications in the developed countries is mainly driven by sedentary lifestyles characterizing these societies.
In addition, people in developed nations have shifted to the consumption of high-calorie foods that are rich in processed fats. The consumption is detrimental to their health (Vanderwood et al., 2010).
Healthy Behavior and Health Education in Relation to Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases: Program Strategy
The Goals and Objectives of the Program
The intervention has two major objectives. The two include increasing awareness among the target population in relation to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. A number of campaigns have been conducted in the past to sensitize people on healthy lifestyles. However, most of these interventions were very broad.
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They failed to focus on one particular health issue or problem. The design of the proposed program is meant to ensure that it escapes from this bottleneck (Ljung et al., 2013). Consequently, the intervention focuses on the creation of awareness with regards to how people can adopt healthy behaviors and habits.
The other objective is to encourage people to actually engage in the identified healthy behaviors, especially with regards to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It is clear that in spite of the existing knowledge in relation to healthy lifestyles and balanced diets, most people disregard the messages propagated by these campaigns. The number of people still dying from diabetes and cardiovascular related conditions can attest to this (Glanz et al., 2008).
A number of health education and healthy behavior theories have been incorporated into the proposed program. The aim is to enhance the impact of this intervention on individuals and on the society at large. The proposed construct is expected to communicate risks associated with unhealthy behaviors, as well as encourage people to be proactively in changing the situation (Vanderwood et al., 2010).
General Concepts and Key Elements of the Program
The planned strategy is a comprehensive undertaking in the sense that it addresses the problem at the individual and the societal levels. According to White, Terry, Troup, and Rempel (2007), improper diets, mental stress, and inadequate physical activity are the major contributors to the pathogenesis of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Consequently, the elements are major lifestyle modification components of the program.
The first phase of the project involves the development of health promotion activities. The activities include educating individuals and the entire society on common risk factors that increase susceptibility to diabetes and cardiovascular complications.
The communication will be propagated through different settings, such as healthy workplaces, health-oriented schools, and other institutions. The essence of this phase is to avert the emergence of the two diseases. It is also aimed at reducing the prevalence of the existing risk factors within the society (White et al., 2007).
The next step of the intervention entails risk assessment and management. The objective will be achieved by carrying out opportunistic but conscientious blood screening. Community screening campaigns should be carried out with the help of all social stakeholders. In addition, patients visiting hospitals should be encouraged to voluntarily consent to blood screening for these conditions (Glanz et al., 2008).
Health workers will be at the forefront in the implementation of the program. Their participation will require the setting up of resource centers and institutions for the program. Paramedics will be tasked with the responsibility of supervising the various activities being undertaken.
In addition, individuals and the entire society will be motivated to take part in the program through the use of role models (White et al., 2007). The models will include prominent personalities suffering from the conditions and those who have improved their health by engaging in the behavior modification activities.
The program will also include the promotion of healthy behavior among children of all ages. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2007), the formative years are essential in setting the path for one’s future health. As such, the children will be educated on the need for balanced diets. They will also be trained on the importance of engaging in physical activities at a tender age, especially sports. Health behavior will be incorporated into their early childhood education (ECD) programs.
The lifestyle of most people in contemporary society is largely sedentary and work oriented. Consequently, healthy workplaces and health promoting schools will be developed. Every institution will be encouraged to set up such facilities as gyms and allocate time for employees to use them. Healthy workplaces can also be established by encouraging the provision of supportive environment and proper diets (Glanz et al., 2008). In addition, health promotion should be incorporated into occupational safety programs for enhanced effectiveness.
Every community should at least have a public gym. They should also have exercise clubs and other venues suitable for physical activities. Education officials, parents, students, and community leaders will be used to promote health education in their communities. Ultimately, healthy behavior and health education policies will be developed and implemented at all levels of the society (Vanderwood et al., 2010).
Theories and Models Supporting the Program
The social cognitive theory (SCT) will be used as the behavioral change construct in addressing the issue of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the society. The choice of the theory is based on its comprehensive nature and ability to bring together different concepts. SCT advances the importance of continuous and ongoing interactions between the individual, the environment, and the target behavior.
According to Glanz et al. (2008), majority of social and behavioral theories focus on the self and on the environmental and social factors that determine a given trait. Some of these elements include social norms exhibited through mediums of mass communication, rewards, and barriers.
The proponents of SCT argue that human behaviors are the result of dynamic interplays between environmental, behavioral, and human influences (Ljung et al., 2013). The theory focuses on the ability of individuals to alter and construct environments that suit their purposes (White et. al., 2007). The assumption is based on the fact that human beings have the capacity to interact with and shape their surroundings. They do this either individually or as a society.
Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are chronic conditions whose major susceptibility contributor is the individual’s lifestyle. The proposed strategy reflects the concepts of SCT by seeking to prompt individuals to take action. Educating the society on healthy behavior creates awareness among individuals with regards to their ability to rise above their condition (White et al., 2007).
The program is used to enlighten the society on its capacity to prevent and overcome diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. The strategy further seeks to alter the environment by instilling a culture of healthy eating habits and physical activity. The creation and development of more exercise facilities alters the surroundings literally. It ensures that people are more exposed to exercises.
The proposed program is based on four concepts of SCT. The concepts are outlined in the table below:
Table 1: Social cognitive theory concepts
|Reciprocal determinism.||Environmental factors influence individuals and groups. However, the parties can also alter their surroundings and regulate their own behaviors.|
|Observational learning.||Learning to perform new behaviors by exposure to interpersonal or media displays, particularly through peer modeling.|
|Outcome expectations.||Beliefs about the likelihood and value of the consequences of behavioral choices.|
|Facilitation.||Providing tools, resources, and environmental changes that make new behaviors easy to perform.|
Source: Glanz et al. (2008)
In relation to the concept of reciprocal determinism, the program seeks to encourage individuals to alter their behaviors since they are capable of doing so. The health education aspect of the strategy focuses on this concept of SCT. Once the society has been saturated with information regarding diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, the next step is to have them act on this knowledge (Glanz et al., 2008).
Outcome expectations are apparent in the proposed program. The concept is part of the reciprocal determinism aspect of the strategy. During the propagation of health education in the society, people will also be made aware of the benefits associated with lifestyle modifications. Once enlightened in this respect, the problems associated with convincing them to take part in the program are reduced (Vanderwood et al., 2010).
The concept of observational learning in the SCT theory is next incorporated into the diabetes and cardiovascular prevention and management program. The strategic project proposes the use of role models in promoting health in the society. Exposing the targets to these individuals will encourage them to embrace the program. In addition, exposing the society to media displays of other communities implementing the plan and their experiences will facilitate its overall acceptance (White et al., 2007).
The proposed program emphasizes on the need for lifestyle changes. Once people adopt a given habit, it is very difficult for them to change. Some individuals may never change without proper facilitation. The realization is the major reason behind the setting up of exercise facilities, health clubs, and other amenities in the society.
Implementation of healthy behavior and health education policies is also based on the concept of facilitation. Educating children on healthy living is aimed at facilitating them to develop positive habits as they grow (White et al., 2007). In addition, healthy workplace policies facilitate the promotion of functional behaviors under various social settings.
Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are exerting pressure on the healthcare system and on the society at large. The formulation and implementation of effective programs to address the issue can significantly reduce deaths and costs associated with the conditions. The proposed strategy is based on SCT model. The theory provides the formulators of this project with a social analysis perspective and framework. The two will be used to promote healthy living through health education in the society.
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2007). A science-based framework for early childhood policy: Using evidence to improve outcomes in learning, behavior, and health for vulnerable children.
Glanz, K., Rimer, K., & Viswanath, K. (2008). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Ljung, S., Olsson, C., Rask, A., & Lindahl, S. (2013). Patient experiences of a theory-based lifestyle-focused group treatment in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20(1), 378-384.
Vanderwood, K., Hall, T., Harwell, T., Butcher, M., & Helgerson, S. (2010). Implementing a state-based cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention program. Diabetes Care, 33(1), 2543-2545.
White, K., Terry, D., Troup, C., & Rempel, A. (2007). Behavioral, normative, and control beliefs underlying low-fat dietary and regular physical activity behaviors for adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 12(4), 485-494.