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Prev Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;50(1-2):26-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.11.009. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

The benefits and challenges of multiple health behavior change in research and in practice.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984, USA.



The major chronic diseases are caused by multiple risks, yet the science of multiple health behavior change (MHBC) is at an early stage, and factors that facilitate or impede scientists' involvement in MHBC research are unknown. Benefits and challenges of MHBC interventions were investigated to strengthen researchers' commitment and prepare them for challenges.


An online anonymous survey was e-mailed to listservs of the Society of Behavioral Medicine between May 2006 and 2007. Respondents (N=69) were 83% female; 94% held a doctoral degree; 64% were psychologists, 24% were in public health; and 83% targeted MHBC in their work.


A sample majority rated 23 of the 24 benefits, but only 1 of 31 challenge items, as very to extremely important. Those engaged in MHBC rated the total benefits significantly higher than respondents focused on single behaviors, F(1,69)=4.21, p<.05, and rated the benefits significantly higher than the challenges: paired t(57)=7.50, p<.001. The two groups did not differ in ratings of challenges.


It appears that individuals focused solely on single behaviors do not fully appreciate the benefits that impress MHBC researchers; it is not that substantial barriers are holding them back. Benefits of MHBC interventions need emphasizing more broadly to advance this research area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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