Predictors of successful behavior change within and across multiple health risk behaviors

Southey F Saul, University of Rhode Island


Discovering trends in the differences and similarities of variables predicting change across different behaviors may shed light on why some behaviors appear more easily changed than others. Discovering the best predictors of healthy behavior change may contribute to the development of more effective evidence-based interventions that foster healthy behavior change across multiple health domains. ^ This study was designed to examine whether there are consistent treatment group, stage of change, demographic, behavior severity, and effort effects that predict long-term changes across three affective behaviors (stress management, emotional eating, depression prevention). The four effects were then compared to three other behaviors previously published in univariate analyses (smoking, healthy diet, sun exposure). ^ Data were analyzed from multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using Transtheoretical Model (TTM) tailored interventions and comparison groups (N = 1085 stress management; N = 458 emotional eating; N = 196 depression prevention). ^ Univariate logistic regressions were performed within each of the new affective behaviors to determine whether the four effects were significant predictors of successful behavior change. Multivariate logistic regressions were then used to assess which of the four effects were most predictive within these three behaviors. Similar multivariate logistic regressions were also done for the three behaviors that had been previously published in univariate analyses (smoking, healthy diet, sun exposure). Informal comparisons were then made across the predictors of all six of the health behaviors. ^ For stress management, treatment group and stage were the strongest predictors of change. For emotional eating, treatment group and cons of change were predictors of change. For depression prevention, depression severity and self-efficacy were predictors of change. For smoking, treatment group, stage, severity, self-efficacy, and behavioral processes of change were change predictors. For healthy diet, treatment group, stage, gender, and severity were predictors of change. For sun exposure, treatment group, stage, severity, pros of changing, cons of changing, and self-efficacy were all predictors of change. Treatment group was a strong predictor of change across five of the six behaviors. Behavior changes were not consistently related to fixed demographic variables. ^ Future intervention research can target the four effects to discover whether advancements can be made in these six different health behaviors. ^

Subject Area

Health sciences|Public health|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Southey F Saul, "Predictors of successful behavior change within and across multiple health risk behaviors" (2016). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10142831.