Theories and Principles of Health Education Applied to Asthma: Learned Helplessness Theory

Learned helplessness theory grew out of the work of Seligman. Simply stated, a person who is faced with an “insurmountable” task will on occasion appear to behave in a manner consistent with feelings of helplessness, depression, and a sense of failure. Although learned helplessness theory does not suggest specific strategies for coping, it may suggest a possible sequencing of interventions. For certain patients, it may be appropriate to emphasize cognitive/emotional aspects (related to perceptions of helplessness) before the presentation of behavioral and skills-oriented educational approaches.
Social Support Theory
Social support tends to operate either as an enabling or as a reinforcing factor, providing resources, approval, reward, or comfort following actions that will tend to be repeated or sustained, and disapproval or indifference to behavior that will tend to be extinguished. Cohen and Wills examined whether the positive association between social support and well-being is attributable more to an overall beneficial effect of support or to a process protecting or supporting persons coping with potentially adverse effects of stressful events (buffering model). A review of studies was organized according to whether a measure assesses support structure (the existence of relationships) or function (the extent to which one’s interpersonal relationships provide particular resources). Evidence for the buffering model was found in relationship to the social support measure and the perceived availability of interpersonal resources that are responsive to the needs elicited by stressful events Reading here ventolin inhaler. Evidence for a direct effect was also found in terms of a person’s degree of integration in a large social network. Both conceptualizations of social support are correct in some respects, but each represents a different process (enabling or reinforcing) through which social support may affect well-being. Taken together, the above evidence suggests that asthmatic patients would benefit greatly not only from social resources that can be accessed in times of need, but also from a high degree of ongoing integration into a large social network.
Principles of Health Education
The foregoing theories of behavior change and health share a number of common elements. These elements can be distilled into several “principles of behavior change and health education” that can usefully inform the design and evaluation of asthma prevention programs.