Stage distributions for five health behaviors in the United States and Australia

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Background. A key variable for the design of individual and public health interventions is the Stage of Change. The five stages of readiness to change are Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. The distribution of individuals across the stages of change can provide a valuable tool for designing health interventions. Methods. The pattern of distribution across the stages of change for five behavioral risk factors is presented from five independent surveys, two from the United States and three from Australia. The five risk factors are smoking, low fat diet, regular exercise, reducing stress, and losing weight. Identical single- item questionnaire items for staging health behaviors were used in all surveys. Results. The stage distributions for the five risk factors were similar across the five independent samples. In general, the pattern of stage distributions was stable across health risk factors, gender, country, and sample. Conclusions. Single-item survey measures of stage of change that are readily applicable to population studies appear to provide important information about the population characteristics of readiness to change behavioral risk factors. The stability of these distributions suggests that interventions matched by stage may have broad applicability.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Preventive Medicine