01/05/2010 Medicine Psychology
DOI: 10.1348/135910709X466487 SemanticScholar ID: 3223992 MAG: 2027882457

Classifying health-related behaviours: exploring similarities and differences amongst behaviours.

Publication Summary

Objectives. The classification of health behaviours may provide a useful framework for understanding their characteristics and therefore the ways in which they are similar and different. However, to date, little research has attempted to identify these characteristics and explore the dimensions along which behaviours differ. This paper uses an inductive approach to explore this issue. Design and methods. In Study 1, 25 repertory grid interviews and 3 focus groups encompassing lay public and health professionals identified 25 ways of describing health behaviours. These were refined into 11 key characteristics. In Study 2, 180 members of the general public rated 20 health behaviours on each of these characteristics. Results. Principal components analysis indicated behaviours were perceived along three key dimensions: ‘easy immediate pay-offs’ versus ‘effortful long-term pay-offs’; ‘private unproblematic’ versus ‘public and problematic’; and ‘important routines’ versus ‘unimportant one-offs’. Risk behaviours were clearly differentiated being perceived as ‘easy immediate pay-offs’ and ‘public–problematic’. In contrast with other approach behaviours such as diet or self-examination, physical activity behaviours were perceived as ‘effortful long-term pay-offs’. Conclusions. This research provides an useful starting point in the development of a framework that allows us to better understand differences and similarities between health behaviours. These dimensions may be important to consider when researchers set out to predict or change behaviour.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Rosie McEachan

Prof. Rosie McEachan

Bradford Institute for Health Research - Born in Bradford Director

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