Health Locus of Control, Risk Perception, and Health Behavior in African Americans

by Cherepakho, Vera

Abstract (Summary)
PURPOSE: The multidimensional health locus of control (MHLC) measures the degree to which an individual feels they are in control of their own health. In order to better tailor interventions to the psychosocial needs of Healthy Black Family Project (HBFP) participants, we explored relationships between MHLC, risk perception, and participation in health behaviors. METHODS: Risk perception analysis was assessed in 87 participants using Fishers exact tests to search for relationships between MHLC scores and risk perception accuracy for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (breast, ovarian and colon). Health behavior was assessed in 68 participants. Outcome measures included physical activity level, information seeking behavior and enrollment in the Minority Research Recruitment Database. Change in physical activity was assessed using the Transtheoretical model. Wilsons model was used to assess changes in information seeking behavior. Fishers exact tests were used to test for relationships among MHLC and the outcome measures. RESULTS: Individuals at high risk for diabetes were more likely to underestimate their risk if they scored low on powerful others (p= 0.011). Individuals at moderate risk for cardiovascular disease were more likely to overestimate their risk if they scored high on powerful others (p=0.005). Women at low risk for ovarian cancer were more likely to overestimate their risk if they were externals (p= 0.04). Overall, the majority of individuals maintained or increased their level of physical activity, and information seeking and enrolled in the database regardless of their health locus of control. CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and ovarian cancer as areas in which participants would benefit from risk education tailored to their locus of control. Maximizing the role of community members, improving patient doctor communication, and the family health history initiative may be appropriate approaches to improve risk awareness. The pattern of behavior change observed in this study may be preliminary evidence that the HBFP is effective at promoting positive health behavior change in individuals regardless of their health locus of control. PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE: Community health outreach programs can use MHLC to explore how to better tailor interventions to their target population. The HBFP may serve as a model for future health promotion efforts.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Robin E. Grubs, C.G.C.; Dr. John W. Wilson; Dr. Angela Ford; Dr. Stephen B. Thomas; Betsy A. Gettig M.S., C.G.C

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:genetic counseling


Date of Publication:06/26/2008

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