The Health Belief Model is primarily used to describe, predict, and explain the health behaviors that people have and the various factors that influence said health behaviors. At its core, this model posits that individuals perceive health problems and health-promoting behaviors very differently, and this difference is based on their perceptions and beliefs surrounding the health issue or behavior in question (Glanz, Rimer, Viswanath, & Orleans, 2008). In essence, this model demonstrates that individuals perceive and approach health differently, and these differences can affect health outcomes.
As a model, HBM is based on six core constructs. The first is perceived seriousness/severity which refers to how seriously individuals perceive health problems or health-promoting behaviors based on the factors surrounding their lives (Hayden, 2017). The second is perceived susceptibility, which addresses how individuals interpret and assess the risk of developing the health problem in question. If individuals consider themselves to be susceptible to a health problem, they will take measures to prevent it and vice versa.
The third is perceived benefits. This construct refers to how individuals view and assess the value of practicing health-promoting behavior to reduce disease risk (Hayden, 2017). The fourth is perceived barriers, which refers to the barriers that individuals face insofar as taking action in the direction of health behavior change is concerned (Glanz et al., 2008). The fifth is cues to action, which are the different triggers that promote health behavior changes and can be either internal or external. Finally, the sixth construct is self-efficacy, which refers to the self-confidence an individual has in their competence and ability to successfully engage in and adopt a health behavior.
The HBM model is considered to be a value expectancy theory because it is predicated on the existence of values that individuals must adopt and the expectations that individuals will have after adopting the values in question with respect to their subsequent behavior. In essence, the two main variables in a value expectancy theory are the values being promoted/discouraged and the behavioral expectations that will result from adopting or abandoning the values in question (Glanz et al., 2008). For instance, if individuals believe that exercise and healthy eating will help them lose weight, they embody a value expectancy theory where the values are exercise and healthy eating, and the expectation is to lose weight.
In this sense, many people will often weigh the values they are required to adopt/abandon and the expected benefits/drawbacks of their decision with respect to goal-setting (Hayden, 2017). If the expected benefits of certain values are perceived to have exponential value to the individual, they are likely to set goals that promote observation of said values. In the example above, the individual’s goal to lose weight will inevitably be accompanied by goals that preclude them from eating unhealthily and avoiding exercise.
One of the HBM constructs that aligns with Biblical scripture is that of perceived benefits. The Bible makes it a point to highlight the importance of taking care of one’s body through exercise and healthy eating. According to 1 Timothy 4:8 (King James Version), “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” scripture promotes exercise as a way of taking care of one’s body. At the same time, Proverbs 25:16 (King James Version) warns against gluttony and overeating and says, “If you find honey, eat just enough too much of it, and you will vomit.” In these ways, the scripture promotes healthy behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating by demonstrating the potential benefits of these activities and how they will result in better physical health in the individual.
At the same time, it is important to note that the HBM construct of self-efficacy does not align in any way with Biblical scripture. This is because this construct calls for individuals to have belief in themselves and their ability and competence to undertake certain behaviors. This, in essence, implies that individuals can act independently out of their own understanding and knowledge, which contradicts scripture. Philippians 4:13 (King James Version) says, “I can do all things through Christ to strengthens me.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (King James Version) further reiterates this message and says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.” These two scriptures remind Christians that their success is God-given and that trusting in their own knowledge and ability is a futile activity, seeing as God is the provider of all. In this sense, the construct of self-efficacy, which promotes self-belief, self-confidence, and trusting in one’s understanding and knowledge in any activity greatly contradicts scripture and deviates from God’s instructions.