Metatheoretical constructs : implications for health and illness definition preference and health related behaviors

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Poppe, Leslie Dean
Nicholas, Donald R.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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Metatheoretical constructs are believed to be philosophical commitments that affect a variety of areas in an individual's life. This study was designed to investigate two questions. First, do individuals subscribe to personal definitions of health and illness because they are committed to different philosophical and epistemological positions. Second, does an individual's personal definition of health and illness predict the frequency of health and illness related behaviors.Two studies were conducted to investigate these questions. In the first, 102 undergraduate subjects expressed a preference for one of three possible definitions of health and illness. Further, these definitions were shown to predict rates of health and illness behaviors. In the second, 72 nursing professionals also selected one of the three definitions of health and illness. A combination of health and illness definition, and personal worldview were shown to strongly predict an individual's frequency of engaging in health and illness behaviors.These data suggest that individuals have personal preferences for defining health and illness. - Further, their health and illness definition, plus personal worldview, reliably predicts health and illness behavior frequency. These results have implications for health psychology research and practice.