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Interrelationships among Preventive Health Behaviors: A Test of Competing Hypotheses

Jean K. Langlie
Public Health Reports (1974-)
Vol. 94, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1979), pp. 216-225
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4596080
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Interrelationships among Preventive Health Behaviors: A Test of Competing Hypotheses
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Abstract

To explore the nature of preventive health behavior, a questionnaire was mailed to a probability sample of 383 adults in a midwestern urban area. Correlation analyses were used to test the hypotheses that preventive health behavior is (a) a unidimensional phenomenon, (b) composed of unrelated behaviors, or (c) multidimensional. On the basis of these analyses, the hypotheses of unidimensionality and of independence were rejected. The 11 behaviors that were then measured formed two clusters. One behavioral constellation, which included driving and pedestrian behavior, personal hygiene, and smoking behavior, was labeled "direct risk preventive health behavior," since inappropriate preventive health behavior in respect to these behaviors constitutes a direct health hazard. The second behavioral constellation, which was labeled "indirect risk preventive health behavior," included use of various preventive services as well as seat belt use, exercise, and nutrition. Failure to follow medical recommendations in these areas is generally not hazardous in and of itself. An additional complexity in determining preventive health behavior is the propensity of some segments of the population to behave relatively consistently with respect to prevention, while others segments behave rather inconsistently. Among people with a consistent behavioral pattern, the direct risk and indirect risk dimensions of preventive health behavior were found to be positively related, but distinct from one another. The inverse correlation observed between direct and indirect risk preventive health behavior among the behaviorally inconsistent suggests that even within this group, preventive behaviors are not independent of one another.

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