Social and Behavior in Public Health

A summary of Dr. Edberg’s webinar on qualitative methods

The video offers a new perspective on how research can be done using a hybrid design that is made up of both qualitative and qualitative research methods. This research method seeks to use both methods of research and this is advantageous, as it enables the combination of the strengths of the two methods and complements each other’s weaknesses. The video starts by outlining the new model, how it can enable researchers to bring improvement into the research methods, and how they can be helped in understanding the new methods and the issues they are investigating. In particular, the presenter outlines the ‘Researcher in Residence’ model by stating that the researcher is the main member of the delivery team, as he/she brings their complementary skills and expertise together with the skills and expertise of clinicians and managers. 

Dr. Edberg goes a step further and explores the topic of qualitative research methodology, which is an increasingly vital research method that all researchers should seek to know and understand. This is very important, as this is a very important research tool that is relied upon by many scientists in their daily work as researchers. The video goes on to discuss the type of qualitative methods that could be valuable for designing fitting qualitative research questions, as well as, discussing common challenges and pitfalls that occur during qualitative research. 

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One point that came out of this video very well was that webinars are fantastic tools that can be used as educational tools to help improve the skills of researchers. This is a very important aspect of this tool, as researchers can be able to understand what is expected of them and what they can do to attain good research conclusions that can be relied upon by policymakers. 

How our group can apply qualitative methods

As social scientist students, we conduct many types of research on social science topics. For this reason, qualitative research methods can be applied in many of our researches. It is important to know and understand how qualitative research methods are used in order to know how best we can apply them as a group in one of our research. The main objective of the qualitative research method is to explore, understand, and explain a phenomenon. It seeks to answer questions such as why? what? and how?. Another major character of this research method is that data provided is generally in terms of pictures, narratives, or illustrations and the methods used to collect this data are less structured in nature like observation, interviews, and content analysis. Open-ended questions are asked and the research design is flexible and evolves as the research progresses. The results in this research method can be presented in a subjective manner that may reveal values and experiences, as well as, personal bias. This research method can be applied to many of the researches that we conduct. For instance, if we are researching the use of condoms by college students we can prepare a questionnaire that has open-ended questions to help in data collection.  Open-ended questions are very important in this kind of research, as it will give an opportunity for the people being interviewed to give their views on the issue being researched. A researcher may get much more information this way and this may play a big role in forming their opinion on the subject matter.    

The theory of planned behavior

The qualitative method of research is one of the most used research methods in scientific and behavioral research topics. This research method has different approaches to research that make it very easy for a researcher to apply. These approaches include ethnography, the narrative approach, the grounded theory approach, and the Phenomenological approach. All these methods can be applied in the topic of discussion and help in developing the research and come up with results that can be relied upon.

One of the most used theories in behavioral science is the social cognitive theory. In the article titled Using the theory of planned behavior to determine the condom use behavior among college students, Matthew Asare uses the planned behavior theory to discuss how the factors influence a person’s or a group’s decision making process regarding a health issue. In this case, the article does in-depth research on the use of condoms and the practice of safe sex by college students aged between the age of 21 and 24. Many factors such as attitude towards condoms, the subjective norms of the society, and the perceived behavioral control will play a very crucial role in this study. Campbell, Peplau, and DeBro  (2014) expound on the planned behavioral theory, as the theory that seeks to explain human behavior in terms of a three dynamic model where personal factors, behavior characteristics, and environmental influences play a crucial role in determining the behavioral outcome of an individual or a group (American College Health Association, 2012). This theory seeks to synthesize processes and concepts from behavioristic, cognitive, and emotional models of behaviors and changes observed (CDC fact sheet, 2013). This way, it can be readily applied to help change the behaviors of a group of people in nutritional intervention for the sexually transmitted group and its management and prevention. 

The researcher had a sample size of 218 college students. These students had a mean age of 20.9 years old. All the 218 students were subjected to a 32- item cross-sectional survey where they were required to answer the questions truthfully. The results showed that many students know what condoms are and that about 15% actively use condoms and practice safe sex. More than 64% know what condoms are but they did not actively use them or practice safe sex (Asare, 2015). For this reason, the study concluded that it was important to develop a guide program that can help the students know the importance of practicing safe sex all the time.

 How the theory of planned behavior was applied

The theory was applied very well in this research by the author Matthew Asare. He sought to understand the behavior of the students and the action they planned to take about practicing safe sex. Matthew Asare first established the fact that all students in the college knew that condoms are important, as they help in practicing safe sex. The research also showed that most of the students knew that failing to use condoms was risky as it exposed them to sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and HIV/AIDS, as well as, unwanted pregnancies for the female populations yet they did not use condoms every time they engaged in sex. This is what the theory of planned behavior seeks to explain. Even though all the students were aware of the dangers they exposed themselves to, their planned behavior determined whether they used condoms for sex protection or they chose to expose themselves to diseases and unwanted pregnancies. For this reason, it is important for students to be sensitized more on the issue to help them avoid contracting sexual diseases.  

Health Belief Model

Journal Summary

According to Shojaei et al. (2016), the Health Belief Model states that people’s subjective risk of developing an illness affects their behavior. This means that people who feel that they are more at risk of developing a certain illness will implement behavioral changes that seek to minimize such risk. The research by Shojaei et al. (2016) sought to evaluate the impacts of the Health Belief Model in reducing the risk of coronary artery disease through dietary changes to at-risk populations. Specifically, the researchers aimed at analyzing how patients who had undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries could apply the Health Belief Model to adopt healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of the disease in the future.

The researchers used a randomized clinical trial on 64 CABG patients and applied the Health Belief Model to assess participants’ knowledge levels regarding proper nutrition. The researchers also applied the model to analyze the participants’ perceived benefits, severity, and susceptibility to coronary heart disease and the actions they undertook to protect themselves and safeguard their health (Shojaei et al., 2016). Their findings revealed that the use of educational interventions that are tailored to the Health Belief Model increased participant knowledge on coronary heart disease. 

The authors concluded that education programs can effectively change the knowledge that participants have regarding proper nutrition. They explained that the Human Belief Model plays an important role in changing perceptions among patients on the need to embrace behavioral changes that will reduce their risk of illnesses. By combining this model with an educational program, the researchers were able to inspire positive changes among participants and reduce their likelihood of developing coronary heart disease. 

Critique of the Application of the Health Belief Model 

The researchers applied the HBM mode effectively in changing participant perceptions on the role of diet in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. The Health Belief Model is largely used in the treatment of lifestyle diseases since it requires patients to embrace positive life changes that will enable them to reduce the risk of illness. In the research by Shojaei et al. (2016), the researchers selected patients at risk of coronary heart disease, which is a leading killer in many western countries.  

Moreover, the HBM model works well with people who are exposed to knowledge of the health risks they face, as this motivates them to adopt lifestyle changes.  The researchers acknowledged this fact and they chose patients who had undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.  These patients were already aware that they faced the risk of coronary heart disease and they were, therefore, able to respond better to the HBM model. 

In addition, the HBM model requires interventions that influence human beliefs regarding illness and appropriate knowledge on behavioral changes that people should implement to mitigate adverse health conditions. In the research by Shojaei et al. (2016), the researchers used educational programs to sensitize patients on the dietary changes they should implement so that they can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. They were able to combine the HBM model with an educational awareness program that empowered participants with the tools they needed to embrace proper lifestyle changes. Using educational programs, the researchers effectively applied the HBM model and helped the patients to understand the risks they face and the importance of dietary interventions that would improve their health outcomes. 


Asare, M. (2015). Using the theory of planned behavior to determine the condom use behavior

among college students. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015; 30(1): 43–50. 

American College Health Association. (2012). American college health Association-National

college health assessment II Reference Group Executive Summary, Fall 2012 Retrieved from

CDC fact sheet. (2013). Incidence, prevalence, and cost of sexually transmitted infection in the

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013 Retrieved from:

Campbell SM, Peplau LA, DeBro SC. (2014). Women, men, and condoms: attitudes and

experiences of heterosexual college students. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 1992;16:273–288

Shojaei, S., Farhadloo, R., Aein, A., & Vahedian, M. (2016). “Effects of the Health Belief 

Model (HBM)-Based Educational Program on the Nutritional Knowledge and Behaviors of CABG Patients”. The Journal of Tehran Heart Center, 11(4), 181–186.

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