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Disabil Rehabil. 2006 Mar 15;28(5):245-56.

Health behavior change models and theories: contributions to rehabilitation.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, USA.



This article highlights the importance of health behavior change (HBC) theory, and its relevance to rehabilitation research and practice.


An extensive review of HBC-related literature pertinent to rehabilitation was conducted, focusing on the potential impact of these theories and models in enhancing long-term results of rehabilitation with regard to lifestyle change and health promotion, and outlining the benefits of incorporating HBC themes into rehabilitation practice. For our purposes, the HBC concept is based on initiation and maintenance of health behaviors, functioning, wellness, and self-management of chronic conditions or disabilities within an environmental context. While comparing and contrasting three widely known theories of HBC, the contributions of these theories to rehabilitation research and practice are discussed.


Three propositions are put forward: (1) HBC variables should regularly be used as outcome measures in evidence-based rehabilitation research; (2) there should be a better understanding of the role of the rehabilitation provider as a facilitator in eliciting healthy behaviors; and (3) there is a need to expand the HBC concept into a more comprehensive view encompassing a person's functioning within the environmental context.


A conceptual merger between HBC theories and rehabilitation practice can have major implications for individuals with disabilities, their functioning, health, and well-being.

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