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Health behaviour and change management – Study reflections

Now that exams are over I feel the need to take a moment to reflect on what I learned.

Last trimester was a slog. Starting a new job and studying part time was hard. Thanks to everyone who told me that or asked me if it would be that I smiled at and ploughed ahead anyway. So I ended up dropping a unit to prioritise getting a passable grade in one unit rather than crashing the plane into the mountain. I intended on sharing more regularly on my blog about what I was learning and sharing sketches, but those things didn’t happen.

Trimester 3 2022 was Health Behaviour. My summary of Health Behaviour is that it’s change management for the body and mind. Learning about the fundamentals of health, the challenges people experience, resistance to change, and how to support people to change.

I don’t know why I was in a hurry to finish my degree. Well, I do. I was in a hurry to get to the end goal of a successful degree. Key word there being successful. And I realised after struggling to balance work, life and my own health challenges that I was better of taking it slower so I give study the attention it needs. Perhaps the process of studying Health Behaviour highlighted what I needed to do to prioritise my own health and getting quality over quantity out of university studies.

Despite struggles and delivering assignments that I did not think were my best work, I actually found the unit really interesting. And the first bit of that is that Health Behaviour is effectively Change Management. Which is something I have been doing for many years as part of my day-to-day job, and have been doing a lot of at work in the past few months.

I enjoyed making comparisons between the models in Health Behaviour and those which I have applied, and see others applying in a business context. Change is change. The Transtheoretical model of change is similar in structure and principles to the Prosci ADKAR model. In the Transtheoretical model people move forward and backwards through Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance (Hayden, 2019). In the ADKAR model people move from Awareness to Desire, to Knowledge, to Ability and Reinforcement (Prosci, n.d.). My understanding of ADKAR is that people don’t necessarily move backward and forward through those stages, but that at an organisational level we need to recognise that people are at different stages. I haven’t done any further digging into health versus organisational change models but am looking forward to units where I’ll get the opportunity to later in my degree. If you’re reading this far and have thoughts or want to point me to some reading I would love that.

When looking at change from an organisational context we like to talk about “what’s in it for me”. What do people get. How are they incentivised. Health Behaviour change is the same, but one thing that was highlighted for me is that even with knowledge, apparent incentive, all the support in the world, people can still struggle with change. Social cognitive theory shows the relationship of incentives and expectations to behaviour. The Health Belief model brings culture and beliefs into that picture further address the complexity that lives under the surface of change (Hayden, 2019). Having a model, or a template, or a spreadsheet doesn’t guarantee success. What works for one person or organisation is not going to necessarily work for the next. Change is a process. People are humans, complex and deserving of respect. The process is a valuable part of getting to the goal, big or small.

I am reassured that even though I didn’t feel like I was able to give Trimester 2, 2022 the attention it deserved, I definitely learned a lot which I can apply to my day-to-day life and work.

References

Hayden, M. compiler. (2019). HBS110 Health behaviour (Third edition.). Pearson Custom Books.

Prosci. (n.d.). The Prosci ADKAR Model: Why it Works. Retrieved 3 March 2022, from https://www.prosci.com/resources/articles/why-the-adkar-model-works

Prosci. (n.d.). Desire – The Prosci ADKAR Model. Retrieved 3 March 2022, from https://www.prosci.com/resources/articles/adkar-model-desire

Disclosure

I am a first year student at Deakin University studying for my Bachelor of Psychological Science, majoring in Organisational Studies. This represents an output of my learning process and/or my own thoughts. It is not for the purposes of assessment or examination.


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