A study on individual health beliefs and practices in relation to propensity for selfcare : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing Studies at Massey University
In this thesis the concepts of Selfcare and of health, which is the goal of selfcare, are explored in relation to the selfcare nursing model. It is a basic premise of the selfcare model that the client be involved to the fullest possible extent in regaining or developing selfcare skills. The proposition offered in this thesis is that individuals differ with respect to their readiness for such involvement and effort in their own health work, and hence in ability to benefit from the application of the model. The study aimed at developing a means of identifying and predicting these differences. It was hypothesized that the individual's perceptions and beliefs about health (Health Concept), his attributions about the location of blame for illness (Blame for illness), and the extent to which he perceives himself as having control over the contingencies of his behaviour (Locus of Control) would all systematically influence his readiness to engage in selfcare (Propensity for Selfcare). A Health Questionnaire designed to obtain data on individual health related beliefs and practices was constructed. This was mailed to a randomly drawn sample of non-academic staff from one university. A combination of univariate and multivariate analyses of the 86 completed questionnaires showed the major variables as described above to be significantly interrelated. The pattern of relationships which emerged between responses to other items in the questionnaire cast further light on the complex determinants of health behaviour. Of particular interest was the suggestion that the manner of perceiving health is a crucial factor. Use of the principal axes method of factor analysis allowed a shortened version of the original questionnaire to be produced. The profile yielded by scores on this instrument not only describes the client in terms of the four major health related variables identified in the study but can also be used to predict readiness to benefit from a selfcare nursing approach.