Behavioral Science

Health Educators— Integrating Behavioral Science with Injury and Violence Prevention

Traditionally, unintentional injury prevention is addressed through environmental, product and policy changes.

For every environmental, technological, or policy-related change, there is a behavioral component.

Incorporating health education/behavior change as part of a comprehensive strategy for preventing violence is necessary.

What is health education/behavior change?

Health education is a social science field that promotes, maintains, and improves individual and community health by teaching individuals and communities how to assume responsibility for addressing healthcare issues.

Health education

  • Draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical, and medical sciences
  • Promotes health and prevents disease, disability, and premature death
  • Uses theory-based voluntary behavior change activities, programs, campaigns, and research
  • Converts poor health habits to health enhancing behaviors, using established theories

Behavior change does not transpire at the individual level.

Behavior change programs should:

  • Address all social levels — as an ecological approach
  • Be comprehensive, incorporating:
    • Health education/behavior change
    • Product and environmental change
    • Policy change and implementation

Health Educators wear many hats including:

  • Advocating to inform and persuade policy makers to support policies and programs to reduce and prevent injury and violence.
  • Working with a community’s assets to determine barriers to behavior change:
    • Focusing on community issues
    • Looking to social structures and support systems to encourage behavior change
    • Involving the community to feel empowered to change certain behaviors, and to promote future community change
  • Bringing together persons from multiple disciplines to address injury and violence prevention from all levels and perspectives.
  • Serving as a subject matter expert on injury and violence.
  • Educating professionals — health care specialists, teachers, administrators, and manufacturers about injury and violence prevention.
  • Conducting research and analyzing data to better understand the problem of injury and violence.

Core Competencies for Injury and Violence Prevention

The National Training Initiative (NTI) for Injury and Violence Prevention developed the Core Competencies for Injury and Violence Prevention. The NTI is a joint project of the State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research.

Behavior Change Theories that can be Applied to Injury Prevention and Control

Effective injury and violence prevention programs are grounded in or based on tested theories and models used in behavioral and social sciences.

While the behavior change theories shown below do not apply solely to injury and violence topics, they are included to demonstrate the use of different theories and conceptual frameworks.

Community Organization Theory
Diffusion of Innovations Theory
Ecological / Social Ecological Model
Extended Parallel Processing Model
Health Belief Model
Health Promotion Models
Integrated Models
Public Health Model
Review of Multiple Behavior Change Theories
Social Cognitive Theory
Theory of Reasoned Action / Theory of Planned Behavior
Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change)