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Visual Illness Narratives of Asthma: Explanatory Models and Health-related Behavior

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Objective: To examine explanatory models of asthma and health-related behaviors. Methods: Children and adolescents with poorly controlled asthma used Video Intervention/ Prevention Assessment (VIA) to generate visual illness narratives. Visual narratives were logged, structured using ATLAS.ti software, and coded for asthma-related beliefs and behaviors. Results: Participants' knowledge of asthma reflected biomedical models they had been taught, but explanatory models of its origin, natural history, and prognosis were more responsive to personal experience, anecdote, and cultural beliefs. Self-management and behavior were more powerfully affected by these models than by knowledge. Conclusion: Understanding and responding to explanatory models of asthma management may be more important than education to improve asthma-related behaviors and adherence to medical plans.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston, MA. 2: Children's Hospital Boston, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston, MA. 3: Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Publication date: 01 November 2002

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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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