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This report will explain two different models of behavior change in regards to recent national health education campaigns. It will discuss anti-smoking campaigns and how and why they are targeting certain groups of people in order to educate them on how to lead healthier and longer lives by warning them about the damage brought on by smoking.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of many chronic and deadly conditions, such as cancer, pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary disease, periodontal disease, and many others. In recent years, tobacco smoking has remained the single most preventable cause of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (heart diseases.) According to the World Health Organization, tobacco over four million deaths are attributed to tobacco a year, and this figure is expected to rise to 12 million deaths per year by 2025.
The two most common theories that have been used by health education campaigns to curb smoking are the theory of planned behavior and the theory of reasoned action. Both theories may be treated as one since they share the same concepts. For humans, behavior is normally guided by three things which work hand in hand: behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs. Behavioral beliefs produce a positive or negative attitude toward the behavior, normative beliefs result in subjective norms, and control beliefs give rise to perceived behavioral control.
The theories of reasoned action and planned behavior depict that an individual’s behavior is determined by their intentions to perform the behavior, which, in the case of tobacco use or cigarette smoking, is a result of the individual’s perceived behavioral control where the individual’s behavior is determined by the ease or difficulty to successfully execute the behavior. This may directly or indirectly be affected by external factors. Here the individual may tend to use use tobacco in the presence or absence of promoters making it difficult for him/her to quit. Another example may be that a smoker knows that if he/she quits smoking there will be withdrawal symptoms, but the individual is confident that he/she will live a life free from diseases.
Second is the subjective norms that are a result of normative beliefs. Normative belief is the perception an individual has towards a certain behavior because of the social out look of whether he/she should or should not engage in such behavior. Ultimately, this results in a subjective norm where, in this case, the individual belief and perception towards smoking is influenced by others’ approval or disapproval of tobacco use. The individual’s actions are weighted by their motivation to comply with others’ wishes.
Third is the attitude towards the behavior where an individual’s beliefs about the causes and outcomes of using tobacco are weighted by their evaluations of the outcomes. Attitudes about smoking can be direct or indirect; a direct attitude about smoking may be a smoker’s overall assessment about whether quitting is good or bad. An attitude involves how strongly a person believes an ultimate outcome will occur as a result of performing the behavior, coupled with an assessment of that outcome. For example, a smoker might believe that it’s very likely she will gain unwanted weight if she quits smoking.
Last is the behavioral intention where, according to both of the theories, the individual’s determination and urge to perform something mostly leads to the occurrence of that behavior. The factors that influence this are attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioral control about quitting smoking.
The theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behavior assume a similar relationship between an individual’s attitudes about a behavior, her intention, and the actual performance of that behavior. Another assumption is that people process every piece of information separately and act accordingly. Simple observation of many smokers will likely reveal that even the best intentions do not necessarily result in quitting.
Social learning theory (also known as cognitive behavior therapy) is sometimes used with nicotine replacement. Here, the individual focuses on his/her confidence in their ability to stop smoking, exploring ambivalence about quitting and learning ways of coping with stress and urges to smoke.