Factors associated with success in health-related behavior changes
Joksimovic, Mary Lou
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Studies that have focused on health behaviors such as weight control and smoking cessation have provided little information about population groups that are not associated with clinical programs. If treatment programs only see those who ask for help, what about the rest? The purpose of this study was to determine which factors are associated with success in making health-related behavior changes, and whether or not nutrition-related professionals differ from nonhealth-related professionals in their success with making changes. Two hundred eighty-six professionals responded to a questionnaire in a midwestern state. The sample included 219 women and 67 men. Participants were classified as health care professionals (N=91), non-health care professionals (N=137), or non-health care professionals with training in health or nutrition (N=58). Respondents reported their height, and present, highest, and lowest adult weights. From these, body mass index (kg/m2) was calculated, and subjects were classified by weight history. Thirty- three percent of the health professionals and 28 percent of the nonhealth care professionals who had ever been overweight successfully lost weight. The greatest degree of success was in smoking cessation. Only 26 (9%) of the total indicated that they were currently smokers, and 24 percent of these who had once smoked were still smokers. Sixty-two percent of the 151 subjects who reported attempting to change other health-related behaviors were successful in doing so. Of the lifestyle characteristics examined by the study - weight control, smoking, and exercise - only the incidence of exercise was found to be statistically different among the three professional groups. Respondents indicated that their most frequent concern was the need for more exercise.