About This Project

Lack of agreement on defining and measuring common theoretical constructs is one of the major impediments to the application and development of theory. To address this problem, this website is designed to provide:

  • Definitions of major health behavior constructs used in research in public health, health communications, nursing and health psychology;
  • Common measures used to assess these constructs; and
  • Descriptions of the construct’s theoretical backgrounds.

Goals of this website are to:

  • Advance theory-based basic and intervention research by providing common definitions, measures, and language;
  • Increase consistency in applying theoretical constructs;
  • Facilitate transdisciplinary discussions;
  • Allow researchers to more easily incorporate theory testing and development into research; and
  • Allow applied researchers and students to make comparisons of major theoretical elements.

About the Editors

Meg Gerrard
Meg Gerrard is a professor at Iowa State University who has published widely on health cognitions associated with adolescent risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, tanning, smoking, drinking and substance use. Her research has been designed to increase our understanding of the way people think about the risks associated with these behaviors, and the reciprocal relation between perceptions and behavior. Dr. Gerrard currently has grant support for three major projects: an NCI grant examining risk perceptions and behavior related to skin cancer; a NIMH grant examining risk behaviors of black adolescents in Iowa and Georgia, and a NIDA grant for the study of health cognitions related to drug use in young adults. Her most recent research has focused on the development of interventions based on this research, e.g., Gerrard et al.(2006). A theory-based dual focus alcohol intervention for pre-adolescents: The Strong African American Families Program. Psychology of Addictive Behavior. 20, 185-195.

Kevin McCaul
Kevin McCaul is Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. His research over the last decade has addressed relationships between cognitions, feelings, and self-protective behaviors. In particular, he has connected thoughts about risk, feelings about worry, and cancer screening (e.g., McCaul & Mullens, 2003, Affect, thought, and self-protective health behavior: The case of worry and cancer screening. In Social Psychological Foundations of Health and Illness). Dr. McCaul is presently funded as a Senior Investigator by the National Cancer Institute.

Paul E. Etcheverry
Paul E. Etcheverry is an Assistant Professor in the Applied Psychology Department of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2004 and completed two years of postdoctoral study at Iowa State University, examining predictors of health behavior. His training is in Social Psychology and his research emphasizes social influence on health-relevant behaviors. He is also interested in the intersection of interpersonal relationship processes and health behavior.

Sarah Kobrin
Program Director
Applied Cancer Screening Research Branch
Behavioral Research Program
Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute
6130 Executive Blvd., Room 4096
Rockville, MD 20852

Editors would like to thank the following reviewers for their time and contributions:

Linda Cameron, University of Auckland, NZ
Mark Conner, University of Leeds, UK
Carolyn Cutrona, Iowa State University
Arie Dijkstra, Unversity of Maastricht, The Netherlands
Chad Gwaltney, Brown University
Verlin Hinsz, North Dakota State University
Clayton Neighbors, University of Washington
Susan Reisine, University of Connecticut
Alex Rothman, University of Minnesota
Chris Peterson, University of Michigan
Neil Weinstein, University of Arizona
Paul Windschitl, University of Iowa
Victoria Champion, Indiana University Center for Aging Research and IUPUI
Greg Welk, Iowa State University
Sue Krebs-Smith, National Cancer Institute
Noel Brewer, University of North Carolina School of Public Health
Mike Carey, Syracuse University
Rick Gibbons, Iowa State University

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Last Updated
September 24, 2020