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Health Promotion Theories: An Ecological Approach Coursework

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Updated: Jan 18th, 2022

Introduction

In research and science, a theory is a suggestion of how independent variables will affect dependent variables. For instance, in school settings, there is a theory that free provision of condoms and anonymous female doctor clinics will reduce the cases of sexually transmitted diseases and underage pregnancies. When medical research is conducted, the aim of the researchers is to obtain results that show whether or not the theory is valid. For instance, the researchers could do a longitudinal study recording STD and underage pregnancy statistics before and after safe sex practices are promoted in the region, and then compare the results to test if the theory proved to be working. The same terms apply to any medical research, which is why the theory is crucial to Health Promotion Programs. By conducting research and testing different theories, scientists can determine the most efficient options for disease prevention and health maintenance in a variety of communities and settings, as well as define the preferred implementation and evaluation schemes.

Behavior and environment

Behavior and environment are both important factors that can facilitate or impair the health of a single person or the community as a whole. In a report by Woolf and Aron (2013), authors state that behaviors such as tobacco use, poor food choices, physical inactivity, drug use, and unsafe sex affect the health of the American population in an adverse way. For instance, tobacco use is linked to cancer, whereas poor food choices can lead to malnutrition or obesity. Environmental factors that affect health can be either physical or social (Woolf & Aron, 2013). For example, poor air quality is a physical environmental factor that can facilitate the spreading of infectious diseases. Low access to healthcare, on the other hand, is a social environmental factor that can also affect the health of the population. There are two main ways that health promotion programs take these factors into account. First, these programs can be aimed at decreasing these factors, for instance, by offering nutrition advice to overweight people, or by increasing the price of tobacco to make it less acceptable. However, some programs can be aimed at other factors affecting health, such as hereditary; in these cases, behavioral and environmental factors need to be taken into account to decrease their effect on the population, for example, by increasing access to care for people with certain hereditary conditions.

Theories in health promotion

There are three main theories used in Health Promotion Practices (Raingruber, 2014). The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) suggests that consider the consequences of their actions before engaging in them (Raingruber, 2014). For instance, in the case of smoking, a person will consider its effects on his or her health before he or she buys a pack of cigarettes. Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) claims that behaviors, including health-related behaviors, are learned by observation, imitation, and positive reinforcement (Raingruber, 2014). For instance, in teens, peer pressure may become one of the deciding factors in drug use due to the perceived positive reinforcement and the desire to fit in. Finally, self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that people become involved in certain behaviors because they find them rewarding, pleasurable, or satisfying (Raingruber, 2014). The most important aspect of this theory is that the self-regulation is autonomous, i.e., an individual is acting out of his own will (Deci & Ryan, 2012).

Conclusion

Overall, the ecological perspective offers a multidisciplinary view on health promotion practices, as it takes into account the influences occurring at different levels, including individual, family, community, national, and global (Samdal & Wold, 2012). Health Promotion Practices that use this approach aim to solve the issues occurring at the various levels with intent to increase the wellbeing of individual people.

References

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory in health care and its relations to motivational interviewing: A few comments. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 24-29.

Raingruber, B. (2016). Contemporary health promotion in nursing practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Wold, B., & Samdal, O. (Eds.). (2012). An ecological perspective on health promotion systems, settings and social processes. Dubai, UAE: Bentham Books.

Woolf, Steven H., & Aron, L. (Eds.). (2013). US health in international perspective: Shorter lives, poorer health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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