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Jun 4th, 2015

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Jun 4th, 2015

There are a number of sub-variables in the belief that a health-related action is valuable. These provide both factors to enable measurement of attitudes and also routes to persuading people to act in healthy ways.

Perceived Susceptibility

This is the person's assessment of the likelihood of them getting the given condition.

If, for example, they are younger and believe that the condition afflicts mainly older people, then they will be less likely to act to protect themselves.

Education may correct misunderstandings about susceptibility, which is often grossly incorrect, typically due either to social folklore or individual denial.

Perceived Severity

This is the person's view of how severely they would be impacted if they were affected by the condition.

The most severe health impact is death, followed by disablement and pain. Duration is also important: a short, sharp pain may be preferable to a long ache.

As with susceptibility, education can be specific about severity, including probabilities of survival and disablement.

Perceived Benefits

This is the belief in how effective the advised medicine or action will be in mitigating the problems of the condition considered in Severity.

You can give a positive message about the benefits of taking specific actions, including accurate information about how effective medicines are at reducing susceptibility and severity.

The message may also subtly include instructions in taking the recommended actions and indicate the timescales involved before benefits appear.

Perceived Barriers

This is the person's perceptions of the difficulties they would encounter in taking the proposed actions, including both physical and psychological barriers.

These may be addressed through various means of support, from financial through reassurance and assistance.

Cues to Action

These are the prompts that are needed to move the person into the state where they are ready to take the prescribed action.

These can include practical ways of nudging them, such as marked calendars, email reminders, how-to charts and so on.


This is the person's confidence and belief in their own ability to take the given action.

If they think 'I cannot do this' or even 'I would find it difficult' then they may well shy away from action, even if they believe the action is essential or otherwise worthwhile.

This self-belief can be bolstered with encouragement, hand-holding, training and other support.

Stress management programming on college campuses should seek to educate students about effective acute stress management techniques since a majority do not use these techniques frequently. By discussing the benefits of using effective acute stress management techniques, teaching strategies to overcome the barriers, and by showing effective ways to send cues college students, health educators can increase the likelihood students will use these stress management techniques. A specific focus on the benefits, barriers, and cues to using these techniques should be employed. Campus health educators could also help students by teaching them how to not get overwhelmed by the stressors of the moment, and how to use effective time management strategies. Using online workshops could be delivered to educate students about effective acute stress management techniques. Education on the following techniques is needed since students felt these were not helpful: mindfulness or counting to ten, spirituality or prayer, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, stretching or Hatha Yoga, and imagery or visualization. Campus health educators can also aim to increase the perceived helpfulness of the effective acute stress management techniques. 

Jun 4th, 2015

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