Semin Hear 2008; 29(1): 081-089
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1021775
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Applying Health Behavior Theory to Hearing-Conservation Interventions

Judith Sobel1 , Mary Meikle2
  • 1School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
  • 2Oregon Hearing Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
11 February 2008 (online)


The knowledge and experience gained by effective health behavior research programs can be applied to adolescent hearing-loss prevention programs to address the public lack of awareness and concern about the risks of hearing loss. Informative conceptual theories can be found in the health behavior literature. These theoretical models have been tested in a variety of settings over many decades. Continuing health communication interventions that examine changes in awareness levels, attitudes, and risky behaviors have supported the key constructs described in these behavior theories. Intrapersonal-level theories predict how knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and other traits within the individual will affect health behaviors. Interpersonal-level theories predict how our relationships with significant others affect our social identity and normative expectations and how these in turn will affect our health behaviors. The Transtheoretical Model (also called Stages of Change) focuses on an individual's readiness to make a change in behavior. The underlying principle of this model is that behavior change is achieved through various stages. Research driven by the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Theory of Planned Behavior demonstrates that there is substantial evidence that behavioral intentions are highly predictive of future behavior. These theories explain the importance of subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. The Health Belief Model identifies five important factors that may influence an individual's decision to practice a health behavior, including perceptions of susceptibility and severity, perceived benefits and barriers to making a change, and environmental cues to action. Finally, the Social Cognitive Theory attempts to predict behavior by understanding the interactions that take place within an individual's social environment. In addition, new models of behavior change have been introduced that are dynamic and far-reaching. It is time for hearing-conservation interventions to reap the benefits of research driven by behavioral theory.