Outlook: A Quarterly Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Fall 2010 Return to Outlook Main page >>

A Brief Look at the Wide Range of Multiple Health Behavior Change Research across the Globe

Jing Wang, PhD, MPH, RN, University of Pittsburgh
Lisa Quintiliani, PhD, RD, Boston University Medical Center

There was a wealth of presentations examining multiple health behavior changes [MHBC] presented at the 11th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine which was held August 4-7, 2010 in Washington, DC. We would like to highlight a few examples particularly germane to the field of MHBC. While each study is different from one another, they each generally represent one of the multiple levels of influence posited by the Social Ecological Model: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy. The Social Ecological Model stresses that these multiple levels of influence have an impact on health behaviors, whereby behavior is influenced by the interaction between individuals and their environment. In highlighting these abstracts, we aim to draw attention to the breadth of current MHBC research, ranging from factors related to prevalence of multiple risk behaviors to intervention research. Please refer to the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2010, volume 17, supplement 1 for the published abstracts; abstract numbers are provided below.

At the individual level, a range of psychosocial factors were examined.

  • Spring and colleagues (OS06-B) conducted a randomized clinical trial of four diet and activity interventions to test which combination of two behaviors (one dietary, one activity) and two goal frames (increase healthy, decrease unhealthy) maximizes healthy behavior change. They found that increasing healthy eating behavior and decreasing unhealthy physical activity produced greater and more sustained lifestyle change than the other combinations.
  • Wang and colleagues (OS24-C) found that behavior-specific self-efficacy in changing diet and exercise, compared to general self-efficacy in managing diabetes, had a stronger relationship with better adherence to diet and exercise.
  • Ferrer and colleagues (OS06-E) found that both high perceived risk (cognitive) and high worry (affective) perceptions were associated with low physical activity and fruit/vegetable consumption.

At the interpersonal level,

  • the influence of interpersonal relationships and social support in the context of peer support was examined in a systemic review conducted by Elstad and colleagues (OS02-D). The review concluded that peer support was effective in promoting multiple health behaviors for conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

At the organizational level,

  • Verweij and colleagues (OSO6-D) examined the effect of workplace health promotion interventions on weight management outcomes and found that there was moderate quality support for nutrition and physical activity behavior change interventions on body weight.

At the community level,

  • Hurst and colleagues (OS06-C) reported results of phase one of the UK study “My Health Matters”, in which GIS environmental mapping of physical activity and healthy food resources were generally found not to be supportive of these behaviors.

Finally, at the policy level,

  • Berman and colleagues (SS33a) reported on the reliability and feasibility of communication technologies to assist in population-wide screening and delivery of referral services for alcohol and drug use in Sweden.

In closing, we wish to remind members interested in the MHBC field to keep an eye out for our proposed pre-conference day workshop about current research issues, challenges, and future areas of research to be held directly before the 2011 SBM Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions in Washington, DC, to be held April 27-30, 2011.