A Children’s Health Belief Model

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The classic Health Belief Model (HBM) was adapted to explain children’s expected medicine use for five common health problems. To evaluate this Children’s Health Belief Model (CHBM), 270 urban preadolescents, stratified by socioeconomic status, grade level, and sex, and their primary caretakers (93% mothers) were individually interviewed. Analyses were performed in two steps. First, regression analysis evaluated the influence of the child’s primary caretaker on the child’s expected medicine use; Individual differences in children’s motivations, perceived benefits and threats, and expectations to take medicines were partially explained by caretakers’ perceptions of these children. Second, path analysis evaluated hypothesized causal relationships in the CHBM, accounting for 63% of the adjusted variance in children’s expected medicine use. Two readiness factors, perceived severity of illness and perceived benefit of taking medicines, had the highest path coefficients, with illness concern and perceived vulnerability to illness accounting for a smaller, but significant, portion of the variance. Cognitive/Affective variables, notably children’s health locus of control, contributed to indirect paths between demographic and readiness factors. The CHBM appears to be a promising model for studying the development of children’s health beliefs and expectations.

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