Using Health Behavior Theories in Instructional Design and eLearning

Health behavior theories are frequently used when designing interventions to improve individual health-related behaviors, but are often not used outside of that space. However, understanding the mechanisms by which individuals choose to exercise, eat healthy, and drink moderately can be applied to many different behaviors. As the goal for many eLearning products is to change behavior, appreciating Health Behavior Theory may help to facilitate sound Instructional Design.

To explain my point, let’s consider one of the major health behavior theories, the Transtheoretical Model, also known as the Stages of Change Model. As this theory is quite complicated in entirety, we will focus on a summary of the key components. Developed in the 1980’s, the original purpose of the Transtheoretical Model was to explain smoking behavior [1,2]. This theory proposes that individuals go through a series of stages when changing their behavior.

Stages Of Change 

  1. The first stage is precontemplation; an individual is considered to be in this stage when they are unaware that their behavior might be compromising their health, and they are not considering a change.
  2. The second stage is contemplation; in this stage an individual is aware of the impact of their behavior and they are considering making a change.
  3. The third stage is preparation; an individual in this stage has decided to change their behavior and is actively planning for and starting to make steps towards changing.
  4. The fourth stage is action; in this stage individuals have made a behavior change and are consciously working to maintain such a change. In this stage, relapse into an old behavior is common.
  5. The final stage is maintenance; an individual is considered to be in this stage when they have maintained a positive behavior change for a long period of time and are less likely to relapse.

This article by Adam Gavarkovs originally published in eLearning Industry.  Read full article here.