Health Belief Model (Detailed)

Theory Summary: 




1. The Health Belief Model (HBM) is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviours by focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of individuals. The HBM was developed in the 1950s as part of an effort by social psychologists in the United States Public Health Service to explain the lack of public participation in health screening and prevention programmes (e.g., a free and conveniently located tuberculosis screening project). Since then, the HBM has been adapted to explore a variety of long- and short-term health behaviours, including sexual risk behaviours and the transmission of HIV/AIDS. The key variables of the HBM are as follows (Rosenstock, Strecher and Becker, 1994):




  • Perceived Threat: Consists of two parts: perceived susceptibility and perceived severity of a health condition.
    • Perceived Susceptibility: One's subjective perception of the risk of contracting a health condition,
    • Perceived Severity: Feelings concerning the seriousness of contracting an illness or of leaving it untreated (including evaluations of both medical and clinical consequences and possible social consequences).

  • Perceived Benefits: The believed effectiveness of strategies designed to reduce the threat of illness.
  • Perceived Barriers: The potential negative consequences that may result from taking particular health actions, including physical, psychological, and financial demands.
  • Cues to Action: Events, either bodily (e.g., physical symptoms of a health condition) or environmental (e.g., media publicity) that motivate people to take action. Cues to actions is an aspect of the HBM that has not been systematically studied.
  • Other Variables: Diverse demographic, sociopsychological, and structural variables that affect an individual's perceptions and thus indirectly influence health-related behaviour.
  • Self-Efficacy: The belief in being able to successfully execute the behaviour required to produce the desired outcomes. (This concept was introduced by Bandura in 1977.)

Perceived Susceptibility
One's opinion of chances of getting a condition
Define population(s) at risk, risk levels. Personalise risk based on a person's features or behaviour. Heighten perceived susceptibility if too low
Perceived Severity
One's opinion of how serious a condition and its sequelae are
Specify consequences of the risk and the condition
Perceived Benefits
One's opinion of the efficacy of the advised action to reduce risk or seriousness of impact
Define action to take: how, where, when; clarify the positive effects to be expected
Perceived Barriers
One's opinion of the tangible and psychological costs of the advised action
Identify and reduce barriers through reassurance, incentives, assistance
Cues to Action
Strategies to activate 'readiness'
Provide how-to information, promote awareness, reminders
Confidence in one's ability to take action
Provide training, guidance in performing action

"The Health Belief Model (HBM) was one of the first models that adapted theory from the behavioral sciences to health problems, and it remains one of the most widely recognized conceptual frameworks of health behavior. It was originally introduced in the 1950s by psychologists working in the U.S. Public Health Service (Hochbaum, Rosenstock, Leventhal, and Kegeles). Their focus was on increasing the use of then-available preventive services, such as chest x-rays for tuberculosis screening and immunizations such as flu vaccines. They assumed that people feared diseases, and that health actions were motivated in relation to the degree of fear (perceived threat) and expected fear-reduction potential of actions, as long as that potential outweighed practical and psychological obstacles to taking action (net benefits)."


1. "Behaviour Change - a Summary of Four Major Theories," [PDF]Family Health International.

2.'Theory at a Glance: A Guide for Health Promotion Practice' National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute.

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I did not know that this kind of data modeling could predict such things, really impressive .



very, very useful. I infact

very, very useful. I infact want to do my MSc in Reproductive health using this model.    school grants for women       i am working in AIDS Control Programme but presently doing MSc in health education and promotion.


Communication for behavior change is a fundamental subject as far as people perceive things,situations and outcomes in their daily summary this theory outline postulates such as the modifying variables,cues to action and self efficacy affect our perception of susceptibility,seriousness,benefits and therefore,our behavior at large are influenced by how much we are exposed to knowledge that can either positively or negatively influence the outcome of our habits hence behavior change.

very useful in what i am

very useful in what i am doing.

i relly dont understand that

i relly dont understand that u done this all this is not good answer



very useful indeed i have

very useful indeed i have been able to use these thory as famework for my study

Very for my masters Thesis.

Very for my masters Thesis. The explanation is elaborate enough.

thank You for that

Good basic summary (a little short for my needs), but the links were VERY helpful

I was pleasantly surpried that my first search through google brought me to this page. this web site has saved me from having to buy a very expensive book. Thank You.

No information on origionators/developers of model

very, very useful. I infact want to do my MSc in Reproductive health using this model. i am working in AIDS Control Programme but presently doing MSc in health education and promotion. I have been reading books but i found it difficult to understand how such models can be applied to my work but within 30m i was able to see the possibility of applying it. i will need your advice when i kick of.

more detail, cartoon examples of a practioner -patient situation etc. would have been helpful aswell.

i found this site very helpfull with my studies towards buyer behavior.

Thank you! This has solved all my problems by providing a succinct yet detailed description of the model. It is set out clearly and makes perfect sense!

health belief that related to the demografi factor

Thank you very much

this page was very useful in helping me complete my work. it provided me with useful information that i couldn't find anywhere else.

the format is so much easier to understand than my notes


easy to read and understand.

clear concise and easy to understand

thank you

this page was very useful in helping to understand.


Having had no idea what the Health Belief Model was until I was asked to find out information about it, I found your summary clear and easy to understand. Thank you. Chris Porter

organized, visually appealing, easy to read

Thank you so much for the succinct overview of the health belief model . I needed accurate info for my masters program grant proposal!

This is a very useful resource for practitioners of bcc

Just what I needed for a clear and concise statement.

I was trying to make sense of a long-winded chapter in my health education book and this simplified things very well. thanks!

That's something which is much clearer.

I was unable to find this useful model in a Medline search. Thank you for including it, as I remember learning it, for my use and that of my learners. Nona McQuay

Excellent summary of the theory.

Very concise and to the point, I liked it a lot.

Thank you very much for your summary of HBM. It was very helpful.

how does it affect a person on a personal, group and environmental level?

i will not say it's not useful but i would like you to put some photos or pictures concerning about the health belief model.

excellent - thank you so much!

Recomend A+++

dang condrament faali. light graph!

I found this very useful as I am studying health psychology at A-level

Family Health International's webpage: Behaviour Change - a Summary of Four Major Theories

I could not find this article with the link you provided.

Editor's note: Many thanks for letting us know. We can't find it anymore either. We have removed the link and have contacted FHI, but have not yet heard back. As soon as we do, we will provide a new link. Our apologies.

I was given this site by my instructor. I felt it was helpful and offered examples to help different learning styles. Thanks alot


Thus far the page has been very helpful by providing a brief review of the HBM. I will look further to determine if there are a list of any articles that discuss the HBM.

Excellent. I am taking a course in social marketing of health products (health practices)and attempting to tie in this theory to social marketing by public health professionals as my self.

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