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Understanding Behavior Change, Action Planning, and Coping Planning: A Review of the Literature (Part 2)

January 13th, 2011

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Urte et al. (2008) did an on-line study with 354 participants to test whether action and coping planning can be used to predict change in physical activity, and the maintenance of that activity. They found that they could predict behavior change using that model just as previous studies have shown.
One of the biggest problems with changing a behavior is maintaining it. Russel Bray(2010) state that up to 50% of participants in a cardiovascular program designed to improve their health drop out within the first few months, with up to 80% stopping completely after a year. Those numbers are startling, especially considering that using such a health program is not temporary, but should be considered a lifelong change. The fact that some can so easily quit a life changing intervention program can create a lot of problems for researchers developing such programs.
One such behavioral change theory is the self-determination theory. This theory organizes motivation into two categories. These are controlled and self-determined motivation. Controlled motivation can be described as a reward and punish system. Going to the gym, one would see the physical results it produces serving as a reward for exercising that day. On the other hand, having the time to go to the gym, but simply not going out of sheer laziness can serve as a psychological punishment. This type of motivation could also include praise from others, such as a music instructor or personal trainer. Self-determined motivation seems obvious, and indeed it is; this would be your own motivation coming from the self to promote whatever change it may be. For example, when changing a health behavior, such as going to the gym, one knows that it will improve their physical and mental health in a variety of ways, therefore motivating them internally to continue with that change. Russel Bray (2010), continue to state that for such motivating factors to be prevalent, and to avoid such mishaps as people dropping out of an exercise program, there must some environmental modification. They state that using principles such as social support or specific environmental conditions can significantly promote consistent and lifelong behavior changes.
On a different note, Webb, et al. (2009) did a study on using cognitive-behavioral therapy to help African-American smokers quit smoking. They mention that African-Americans in particular suffer from more frequent lung problems than do in comparison with other races, hence why their study involved that race. The cognitive behavior therapy used consisted of four main points: “coping skills training, problem focused coping, behavioral contracting, and relapse prevention strategies. ”
With this type of behavioral intervention, it focuses on convincing participants through self-motivation to help them cure themselves of a behavior, in this case smoking. Using this strategy they would be able to control smoking urges overtime, eventually being able to stop smoking entirely. Their control group was based off of general health education. The results showed that cognitive-behavioral interventions taught were still maintained after a 6 month follow up with 31% of participants as compared to 14% of participants in the control group, quite a significant difference. To conclude, there are a vast variety of behavioral changing interventions out, the previous examples are quite common interventions; yet there are many more which are continuously being researched and applied.
References
Armitage, C. (2009). Is there utility in the transtheoretical model? British Journal of Health Psychology, 14(2), 195-210.
Michie, Susan; Hardeman, Wendy; Fanshawe, Tom; Prevost, A. Toby; Taylor, Lyndsay; Kinmonth, Louise. Psychology Health, Jan2008, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p25-39, 15.
Russell, Kelly L. Bray, Steven R. (2010). Promoting Self-Determined Motivation for Exercise in Cardiac Rehabilitation: The Role of Autonomy Support. Rehabilitation Psychology. Vol. 55, No. 1, p 74-80.
Scholz, U. Schüz, B. Ziegelmann, J. Lippke, S. Schwarzer, R. (2008). Beyond behavioural intentions: Planning mediates between intentions and physical activity. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13(3), 479-494.
Sniehotta, F. (2009). Towards a theory of intentional behaviour change: Plans, planning, and self-regulation. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14(2), 261-273.

Webb, M. S. de Ybarra, D. Baker, E. A. Reis, I. M. Carey, M. P. (2010). Cognitive- behavioral therapy to promote smoking cessation among African American smokers: A randomized clinical trial.

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