We have reviewed and will review many theories that focus on individual-level factors (intrapersonal), social/group-level factors (interpersonal), and environmental-level factors (e.g., policy, infrastructure) that drive behaviors. The Social ecological model incorporates all of these levels. While ecological approaches tend to be used most in health behavior change, like other theories we have discussed, they have other potential applications as well. A classic example of an ecological approach might be something like smoking cessation, for which we have seen campaigns like Truth and others try to change individual- or group-level behaviors, as well as policies that have tried to change environmental and/or policy factors (putting cigarettes in a locked cabinet in some stores, many states have taxes on cigarettes to discourage purchase, etc.).
In this week’s discussion, consider the following:
What are some strengths and weaknesses of these multi-level approaches?
Are campaigns always able to take a multi-level approach? If not, what level(s) – e.g., individual level change, environmental level change, etc. – do you think are most helpful, and why?
What levels of change are realistic?
Feel free to incorporate any professional or other personal experience you have in this area – for example, if you do work related to behavior change, perhaps you feel like it’s easier to create individual-level campaigns than it is to influence policy change. You may find it helpful to focus on a couple of different specific behaviors (ideally something different than what you are writing your paper on) as you think about and address these questions.
Gregson, J. et al. (2001). System, environmental, and policy changes: Using the social-ecological model as a framework for evaluating nutrition education and social marketing programs with low-income audiences. Journal of Nutrition Behavior, 33, S4-S15
Kumar, S., Crouse Quinn, S., & Kim, K. (2011) The Social ecological model as a framework for determinants of the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine uptake in the United States. Health and Education Behavior, 39, 229-243.
May, M., Tranter, P. J., & Warn, J. R. (2008). Towards a holistic framework for road safety in Australia. Journal of Transport Geography, 16, 395-405.
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