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Theories & Approaches

All Theories & Approaches

The Health Belief Model and Sexuality Education

The Health Belief Model (HBM) has been applied to a variety of health education topics including sexuality education. Since the HBM is based on motivating people to take action, (like using condoms) it can be a good fit for sexuality education programs that focus on:

  1. Primary prevention — for example, programs that aim to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and HIV by increasing condom use, and

  2. Secondary prevention — for example, programs that aim to increase early detection of STIs or HIV to reduce their spread via unprotected intercourse and to ensure the early treatment of the conditions.

The HBM is not a good fit for comprehensive sexuality education programs that cover a variety of information related to sexuality but are not specifically action-oriented.

Applying the HBM to abstinence education is possible but is not necessarily a good fit. Youth abstain from sex for many reasons — personal reasons, religious reasons, logistical reasons — not always primarily to avoid a perceived threat of a negative health outcome. Using HBM's threat-logic model to promote abstinence could be unduly "sex negative."

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Next: Research Study Summary: A Health Belief Model-Social Learning Theory Approach to Adolescents' Fertility Control: Findings from a Controlled Field Trial