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J Adv Nurs. 2001 Nov;36(3):417-25.

A social cognitive model for health education/health promotion practice.

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Faculty of Human Sciences, Institute of Health Studies, University of Plymouth, Exeter, Devon, UK.



To investigate the place and validity of contemporary social cognitive models for health education practice in nursing settings and, in doing so, develop and put forward a specific model for this purpose.


The last decade or so has seen a marked increase in the amount of health educational/health promotional activities that nurses are expected to undertake. This has followed on from concerted calls to make health education a familiar and recognized part of nursing practice. Despite this, past and current evidence identifies that nurses have been, and continue to be, ineffective and inconsistent health education practitioners. Where health education activity does take place it tends to centre specifically on social cognitive behavioural change strategies. Subsequently, it is argued here that any failure on the part of nurses successfully to apply health educational initiatives into practice has been compounded by the lack of any nursing-specific social cognitive model process. This paper seeks to redress this imbalance by putting forward the case for such a model, developing it, and demonstrating how it can be incorporated into the practice setting.


A systematic review of the literature has been conducted and the article draws upon this in order to develop an evolving theoretical perspective for health education practice. The proposed model has evolved from this new perspective. Development of this model has drawn on contemporary social cognitive behavioural models--using them as a means to develop a further conceptual framework for nursing.


Social cognitive behavioural models are valuable tools that nurses can incorporate routinely into existing frameworks of practice. The proposed model is designed to make the adoption of health-related behavioural change in clients easier and more realistic. If the current situation continues whereby social cognitive behavioural models are not adopted as a concerted and routine part of nursing practice, then nursing may well continue to fall behind other health professions in the discipline of health education.

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