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The Role of Feedback in the Process of Health Behavior Change

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Objective: To offer a taxonomy of types of feedback and describe potential mechanisms of action particularly in the area of addictive behaviors. Method: Reviewed the literature to examine support for types—Generic, Targeted, and Personalized—and for mechanisms of feedback. Results: Although it is not clear how it works, feedback is thought to offer important information, to create a sense of caring and helping relationship, to reach more directly decisional considerations, to increase engagement in the materials, to increase motivation, or to provide social comparison and norms. Conclusions: Avenues for future research in search of the most effective manner of using feedback to promote health behavior change are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychology Department, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD.

Publication date: 2001-05-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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