Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creating habits

While at the CDC, I went to a workshop on behavior change and I’ve been thinking about this for the yoga study. Are we really going to be able to get a group of busy women to start up a yoga practice? It will require creating new habits and new patterns of behavior, and I am wondering if and how that can be taught.

Below are a few of the social science theories discussed that I found useful for thinking about this:
The 11 variables that influence behavior

  1. Intention to perform a specific behavior
  2. Environmental factors
  3. Necessary skills to perform the behavior
  4. Beliefs about the behavior
  5. Opinions about consequences or outcomes from the behavior
  6. Peer pressure
  7. Self-standards -- how someone wants to perceive themselves
  8. Emotional reactions towards the behavior
  9. Perceived self-efficacy -- self-confidence
  10. Cultural believes
  11. Contextual factors -- including the “social capital” present in communities such as strong churches, a network of moms, etc… any resources in the community that can be mobilized
Stages of Change
When making behavior change, people go through the following pattern of change:
Pre-contemplation --> Contemplation --> Preparation --> Action --> Maintenance

The “Chain of Causation” in public health
Large scale factors (historical, cultural, political, economic, etc) --> Behavioral Predictors --> Risk behaviors --> Proximate Determinants (pathogens, carcinogens, toxins, etc) --> Disease outcomes.
Medical school focuses us on the last two parts of that chain.

One thing missing from the 11 variables list is the power of good leadership. 

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