Applying Health Locus of Control and Latent Class Modelling to food and physical activity choices affecting CVD risk

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Abstract

Health Locus of Control (HLC) classifies our beliefs about the connection between our actions and health outcomes (Skinner, 1996) into three categories: “internal control”, corresponding to health being the result of an individual's effort and habits; “control by powerful others”, whereby health depends on others, such as doctors; and “chance control”, according to which health depends on fate and chance. Using Choice Experiments we investigate the relationship between HLC and willingness to change lifestyle, in terms of eating habits, physical activity and associated cardiovascular disease risk, in a 384 person sample representative of the 40–65 aged population of Northern Ireland administered between February and July 2011. Using latent class analysis we identify three discrete classes of people based on their HLC: the first class is sceptical about their capacity to control their health and certain unhealthy habits. Despite being unsatisfied with their situation, they are reluctant to accept behaviour changes. The second is a group of individuals unhappy with their current situation but willing to change through exercise and diet. Finally, a group of healthy optimists is identified, who are satisfied with their current situation but happy to take more physical activity and improve their diet. Our findings show that any policy designed to modify people's health related behaviour should consider the needs of this sceptical class which represents a considerable proportion of the population in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume132
Early online date05 Mar 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

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