Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Behavior Change

  • Rachel J. BurnsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, McGill University Email author 
  • , Alexander J. RothmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota


Health behavior change


Behavior change is the process of modifying a behavior, often to produce a desired outcome. Behavior change usually involves the substitution of one pattern of behavior for another.


National and international health entities encourage people to engage in a range of behavioral strategies, including attending cancer screenings, being physically active, refraining from tobacco use, and using methods that protect against sexually transmitted infections. These efforts can prevent, delay, or decrease the severity of several prevalent chronic health conditions (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2015; World Health Organization 2010). Accordingly, behavior change is a central component of the prevention and treatment of various health conditions, especially the management of chronic disease. For instance, dietary changes and restrictions are essential in the management of diabetes mellitus and celiac disease (Evert et al. 2013; Rubio- ...

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