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PHS 5034: Health Education and Health Behavior

Concentration: Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity
Credits: 3 graduate credits


This course will provide an introduction to behavioral and social science theories utilized in health promotion programs, predominantly in the design, implementation and general practice procedures that encompass the field. It will provide students with a foundation for understanding health behavior change within a population or community of interest, as well as providing the means for understanding the connections that exist between behavior and health. Understanding health behavior will be aided by addressing constructs and concepts that shape health behavior, including intrapersonal factors, interpersonal factors, cultural and community factors, and society as a whole.


Learning Objectives

1. Explain the types of factors influencing health that are covered in an ecological model

2.  Describe key behavioral theories focusing on the individual – the Health Belief Model, Theory of Reasoned Action, Theory of Planned Behavior, Trans-Theoretical Model, and the Precaution Adoption Process Model

3. Describe a selection of key behavioral theories focusing on social influences and group action – Social Cognitive Theory, Social Network Theory, Diffusion of Innovations, and Social Marketing

4.  Describe a selection of key behavioral theories focusing on the influence and nature of broader social contexts – communications theory, community and organizational mobilization, political economy, and culture theory

5.  Identify key issues with respect to the use of communications and media for health promotion

6.  Identify the kinds of social/behavioral theories, and unique considerations, that could be applicable to health promotion in high risk populations

7.  Discuss the need for evaluation of health promotion programs and how theory and evaluation are linked

8. Describe the basic types kinds of evaluation: process, impact, and outcome

9.  Describe the range of factors (within an ecological model) that contribute to health disparities and how social/behavioral theories can be employed to address this major public health issue

10.  Apply various health behavior theories to specific public health problems

11.  Critique various health behavior theories

Prerequisites and Corequisites

Graduate Standing


Kathy Hosig