Monday, June 27, 2011

Bringing it back to the basics

We'll bring back a discussion of Men's Health Week later today, but this morning I wanted to talk a little bit about the use of conceptual models in behavioral health interventions.

I, like many other public health students (I assume), memorize the constructs of a whole bunch of behavioral models during the introductory Social and Behavioral Health class. We have the Trans-Theoretical Model, the Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory, Health Belief, Risk Perception ... the list goes on (and on and on).

I, also like many other public health students, learn the models, categorize them within my brain, and then promptly forget to actually apply their messages to any of my work. I found this out this morning during my practicum work; my preceptor came to me and said, "Well, you have all this information about distracted driving, and you have this fancy model ... are they related?" And the light bulb went on. Although I had created an outline for my paper that seemed to make sense, it was only loosely related to the theoretical basis I had chosen. *headdesk

This is why I'm happy that they give us preceptors to give us feedback and input about our duties. Otherwise, I'd be making silly mistakes like this for the rest of my career.

It's so important that, as we go down the empirical research path, we consider our theoretical basis. That is, we can't just do a literature review without relating each piece back to its fundamental theory. Drawing conclusions about empirical research is useless unless we can determine how to apply our learning.

Just a little advice for all my fellow PH students out there. Stay tuned for more fun information this afternoon!

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