Using health education theories to explain behavior change: A cross-country analysis

Lisa Murray-Johnson, Kim Witte, Marc Boulay, Maria Elena Figueroa, Douglas Storey, Ian Tweedie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars within the fields of public health, health education, health promotion, and health communication look to specific theories to explain health behavior change. The purpose of this article is to critically compare four health theories and key variables within, them with regard to behavior change in the area of reproductive health. Using cross-country analyses of Ghana, Nepal, and Nicaragua (data sets provided by the Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins University), the authors looked at, the Health Belief Model, Theory of Reasoned Action, Extended Parallel Process Model, and Social, Cognitive Theory for these two defined objectives. Results show that all four theories provide an excellent fit to the data, but that certain variables within them may have particular value for understanding specific aspects of behavior change. Recommendations for the selection of theories to use as guidelines in the design and evaluation of reproductive health programs are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-207
Number of pages23
JournalInternational quarterly of community health education
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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