Reviewer: Andrea Hope, EdD (Monmouth University School of Nursing and Health Studies)
Description: This book describes what theory is, how theories are developed, and the factors that can influence health behavior. This is a critical topic for undergraduate students who are interested in working in health education, health promotion, and public health. Accompanying resources include a companion website for students designed to supplement the book with interactive learning resources and online study tools. Unfortunately, I got an error message when I tried to access the website so I could not review it. The book has visual representations of each theory/model and references for current and relevant peer reviewed journal articles. The second edition of this book was published in 2014 and the first was published in 2009.
Purpose: The author notes that historically learning about theory is difficult for undergraduates and most find health behavior theory dry and boring. She wrote this book to provide her students with an introduction to health behavior theory that is interesting, easy to understand, and engaging. The objectives are worthy and necessary for those who intend to work in the fields of health education and public health. The practical use of theory and its implications in conducting research are valuable and necessary. This book meets the author's objectives by including engaging activities and examples of peer-reviewed research that are grounded in health behavior theory.
Audience: The book is tailored to undergraduate students as a basic introduction to health behavior theory, and it definitely meets the needs of the intended audience. It also would be helpful for graduate students who are interested in working in health education, health promotion, and/or public health, especially those who didn't have any health behavior theory courses during their undergraduate curriculum. This would be a practical resource for those working in the field of health education or public health, especially for those who develop interventions or conduct health assessment, research, and program evaluation. Furthermore, the book provides many updated resources that would be beneficial for students or practitioners studying to take the CHES exam (Certified Health Education Specialist) offered by the National Commission of Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). The author is well respected in health education. She holds a PhD in health education from New York University and is a professor emeritus in the Department of Public Health at William Paterson University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and a health education consultant.
Features: This well-organized book provides an introduction to theory, describes what theory is and why we need health behavior theory, and explains the types of theories. Each chapter has the same structure and is easy to navigate. All chapters include learning objectives for students, theory essence sentences, background information about each theory, concepts and constructs of theories, class activities, research studies, and article questions and references that are extremely helpful in understanding why theory is integral in health research. The theory in action section at the end of each chapter is a full-length, peer-reviewed journal article on a different theory. This is a unique feature and is valuable for students. The research studies are relevant, diverse, and current. Class activities tailored to each research study give students a comprehensive picture about how theories are important in predicting and understanding health behavior. At the end of chapter 12 there is a theory chart that shares domains for each theory and techniques for addressing them. The author mentions in the preface that not all theories are addressed in the book, but it would be helpful to have an additional index or appendix of other theories being used in the field. Theories such as self-determination theory are increasingly being used in the field. Although I was unable to navigate the companion website, apparently there is an annotated bibliography that includes a list of journal articles searchable by health issue, theory, and population, and this would be an exceptional resource. One of the best aspects of this book is the research article in each chapter that illustrates how theory is used in research. I would suggest that students have a prerequisite introduction to basic research before using this book, or that the book adds a basic research methods review chapter so that students are literate in research and are able to benefit from this feature.
Assessment: This book is extremely helpful and I would have benefitted greatly from it when I was an undergraduate studying health education. The activities in each chapter are practical and helpful in learning about health behavior theory and its applications in the real world. Specifically, the essence sentence, which very simply captures what each theory is about, and the background on how each theory developed are helpful in the beginning. Most importantly, the research studies in each chapter are so helpful in establishing why theory is so important to research. This is where books have failed in the past. This book does a great job of including current and relevant health research and highlights for students how we can predict and understand health behavior. As the author describes in the preface, we know that health interventions based on theory are more effective than studies that do not have a theoretical basis. The author does a great job of making theory more interesting, understandable, and practical by incorporating the research studies at the end of each chapter. The current resources included in the book alone justify the new edition. This edition also offers a new chapter on protection motivation theory, theory essence sentences in each chapter, theory in action sections, and a new theory chart in chapter 12.