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Health Belief Model

The Health Belief Model (HBM) is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors. This is done by focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of individuals. The HBM was first developed in the 1950s by social psychologists Hochbaum, Rosenstock and Kegels working in the U.S. Public Health Services. The model was developed in response to the failure of a free tuberculosis (TB) health screening program. Since then, the HBM has been adapted to explore a variety of long- and short-term health behaviors, including sexual risk behaviors and the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

The HBM was spelled out in terms of four constructs representing the perceived threat and net benefits: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers. These concepts were proposed as accounting for people's "readiness to act." An added concept, cues to action, would activate that readiness and stimulate overt behavior. A recent addition to the HBM is the concept of self-efficacy, or one's confidence in the ability to successfully perform an action. This concept was added by Rosenstock and others in 1988 to help the HBM better fit the challenges of changing habitual unhealthy behaviors, such as being sedentary, smoking, or overeating.

In a world that appears to be shrinking geographically with each advance in technology, the erosion of our sensitivity to the multitude of cultures seen on every continent looms as a seemingly unavoidable consequence. While some may view this as one of the prices of global development, there exists a body of thought that such development is often shortsighted, and even harmful. One very specific example is international health care, and it can be argued that international health care assistance and development, as they have evolved at the twilight of the 20th century, are sorely lacking in many instances in planning and initiating health programs that are sensitive to the diverse cultures to be found worldwide.

This paper seeks to address the idea that sensitivity to a recipient people's culture plays a crucial role in international health programs and needs to move well beyond the limited acceptance and utilization this idea enjoys at present if such programs are to realize their fullest possible potential. Ironically, this dilemma comes, according to Neill, at a time when ' ... it has become common practice in the field of public health to pay lip service to the importance of culture in the study and undertaking of health behaviors, but culture has yet to be inscribed as a foundation in health promotion and disease prevention programs'

In the face of the information presented above, a note of caution must be inserted, for the ease of enumerating solutions should not obscure the difficulties in improving education, enhancing cultural sensitivity, nor promoting the responsible gathering and evaluation of anthropological data. However, in spite of these difficulties, these very solutions should certainly be pursued. (Mull, 1995) To do otherwise would be to regard culture in general and a recipient people's culture in particular as a barrier to improved health, ...
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