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1.  Parental information-seeking behaviour in childhood vaccinations 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1219.
People want to be well informed and ask for more information regarding their health. The public can use different sources (i.e. the Internet, health care providers, friends, family, television, radio, and newspapers) to access information about their health. Insight into the types and sources of vaccine related information that parents use, and reasons why they seek extra information is needed to improve the existing information supply about childhood vaccinations.
Dutch parents with one or more children aged 0–4 years received an online questionnaire (N = 4000) measuring psychosocial determinants of information-seeking behaviour and self-reports of types and sources of vaccine information searched for (response rate 14.8%). We also tested two invitation approaches (i.e., reply card versus Internet link in invitation letter) to observe the difference in response rate.
Almost half of the parents (45.8%) searched for extra information. Of all the respondents, 13% indicated they had missed some information, particularly about side effects of vaccines (25%). Intention to search for vaccination information was influenced by positive attitude and perceived social norm towards information-seeking behaviour. There was no difference in the response rate between the two invitation approaches.
The information provided by the National Immunization Programme (NIP) might be sufficient for most parents. However, some parents mentioned that they did not receive enough information about side effects of vaccinations, which was also the topic most searched for by parents. Public Health Institutes (PHIs) and child healthcare workers should therefore be aware of the importance to mention this aspect in their communication (materials) towards parents. The PHIs must ensure that their website is easy to find with different search strategies. Since the child healthcare worker is perceived as the most reliable information source, they should be aware of their role in educating parents about the NIP.
PMCID: PMC3909325  PMID: 24358990
Information seeking; Information need; Internet; Reasoned action approach; Health communication; Vaccination
2.  Why parents refuse childhood vaccination: a qualitative study using online focus groups 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1183.
In high income countries, vaccine-preventable diseases have been greatly reduced through routine vaccination programs. Despite this success, many parents question, and a small proportion even refuse vaccination for their children. As no qualitative studies have explored the factors behind these decisions among Dutch parents, we performed a study using online focus groups.
In total, eight online focus groups (n = 60) which included Dutch parents with at least one child, aged 0–4 years, for whom they refused all or part of the vaccinations within the National Immunization Program (NIP). A thematic analysis was performed to explore factors that influenced the parents’ decisions to refuse vaccination.
Refusal of vaccination was found to reflect multiple factors including family lifestyle; perceptions about the child’s body and immune system; perceived risks of disease, vaccine efficacy, and side effects; perceived advantages of experiencing the disease; prior negative experience with vaccination; and social environment. The use of online focus groups proved to be an effective qualitative research method providing meaningful data.
Information provided by the NIP turned out to be insufficient for this group of parents. More trust in the NIP and deliberate decisions might result from increased parental understanding of lifestyle and disease susceptibility, the impact of vaccinations on the immune system, and the relative risks of diseases and their vaccines. The public health institute should also inform parents that the NIP is recommended but non-mandatory.
PMCID: PMC3878652  PMID: 24341406
Childhood vaccination; Immunization; On-line focus group; Qualitative study; Decision-making; Beliefs
3.  Non-participation in chlamydia screening in the Netherlands: determinants associated with young people’s intention to participate in chlamydia screening 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1091.
In the Netherlands, a national chlamydia screening program started in 2008, but the participation was low and the screening was not cost-effective. This study aimed to explore unconscious and conscious associations with chlamydia screening (16-29 year-olds). In addition, we examined whether information presented in chlamydia screening invitation letters had an effect on the evaluation of these determinants compared to a no-letter group.
An Internet survey was conducted that included self-report measures of attitude, susceptibility, severity, unrealistic optimism, subjective, moral, and descriptive norm, perceived behavioral control, outcome expectations, barriers, intention, and a response time measure to assess unconscious associations of chlamydia screening with annoyance, threat and reassurance.
On the unconscious level, participants (N = 713) who received no information letter associated testing for chlamydia with annoyance and threat, but also with reassurance (all p’s < .001). On the self-report measures, participants showed a low intention towards chlamydia screening (M = 1.42, range 1–5). Subjective norm, moral norm, perceived susceptibility and attitude were the most important predictors of the intention to screen (R2 = .56). Participants who rated their susceptibility as high also reported more risky behaviors (p < .001).
In the groups that received a letter (N = 735), a weaker unconscious association of chlamydia screening with annoyance was found compared with the no-letter group (p < .001), but no differences were found in reassurance or threat. Furthermore, the letters caused a higher intention (p < .001), but intention remained low (M = 1.74). On a conscious level, giving information caused a more positive attitude, higher susceptibility, a higher subjective and moral norm, and more positive outcome expectations (all p’s < .001).
Subjective norm, moral norm, susceptibility, and attitude towards chlamydia might be crucial targets to increase chlamydia screening behavior among sexually active young people. This study shows that informational invitation letters increase the intention and the intention-predicting variables. More evidence is needed on whether screening behavior can be increased by the use of an alternative information letter adapted to the specific unconscious and conscious determinants revealed in this study, or that we need other, more interactive behavior change methods.
PMCID: PMC4222760  PMID: 24266906
Chlamydia screening; Participation; Non-response; Determinants; Implicit associations
4.  “I don’t see an added value for myself”: a qualitative study exploring the social cognitive variables associated with influenza vaccination of Belgian, Dutch and German healthcare personnel 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:407.
Health Authorities recommend influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel (HCP) to decrease the transmission of influenza to vulnerable patients. Recent studies have almost exclusively used quantitative questionnaires in order to identify determinants of vaccination behaviour. Interviews enable HCP to express freely why they think they are (not) willing to get vaccinated against influenza.
By means of semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 123 Belgian, Dutch and German HCP, reasons for and against vaccination, experiences with influenza vaccination, intention to get vaccinated and possible barriers, as well as willingness to advice influenza vaccination to patients were investigated. Data were processed with QSR NVivo 8.0 and analysed using a combination of a deductive and a general inductive approach.
Across countries, self-protection, patient protection, and protection of family members were reported as most important reasons to get vaccinated against influenza. Reasons to not get vaccinated against influenza were fear of side effects caused by the vaccine, a low risk-perception, the disbelief in the effectiveness of influenza vaccination, organizational barriers, misconceptions, and undefined negative emotions.
The social cognitive variables underlying the decision of HCP to get vaccinated against influenza (or not) seem to be similar in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, even though some differences surfaced. A quantitative investigation of those social cognitive variables is needed in order to determine the importance of the social cognitive variables in explaining the intention to get vaccinated and the importance of the similarities and differences between countries that have been found in this study.
PMCID: PMC4021212  PMID: 24775096
Influenza vaccination; Healthcare personnel; Hospital; Qualitative research; Social cognitive determinants
5.  Determinants of intention to get tested for STI/HIV among the Surinamese and Antilleans in the Netherlands: results of an online survey 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:961.
High infection rates of STIs are found among the different ethnic communities living in the Netherlands, especially among the Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans. Only limited effective interventions that promote STI/HIV testing among these communities are available in the Netherlands. In the present study we identified the determinants of the intention to get tested for STI/HIV of the sexually active Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans living in the Netherlands. Secondly, this study assesses which determinants should be addressed when promoting STI/HIV testing among these communities.
In total, 450 Surinamese and 303 Dutch-Antillean respondents were recruited through Dutch Internet panels and group activities. The questionnaire used in the online survey was based on the concepts of the Health Belief Model, the Social Cognitive Theory, and Theory of Planned behavior. To correct for multiple outcome testing, we considered differences as statistically significant at p<.01 for all analyses. For the multivariate linear regression analysis, variables that were significant were entered into the model block-wise.
Health motivation, cues to action, subjective norms, risk behavior, test history, open communication about sexuality, and marital status were important (univariate) predictors of the intention to get tested for STI/HIV for both the Surinamese and Dutch-Antillean respondents. For both the Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans, subjective norms were the most salient predictor of the intention to get tested in multivariate analyses, explaining 10% and 13% of the variance respectively; subjective norms had a direct influence on the intention for both the Surinamese and the Dutch-Antilleans.
The strong correlation and predictive power of subjective norms on the intention to get tested for STI/HIV, endorses the importance of focusing on community-based intervention rather than focusing on personal determinants, to change the present perceptions and attitudes towards testing. Health promoting programs should be aimed at promoting open communication regarding sexuality and testing. Stimulating each other to get tested frequently could also help achieving the desired behavior.
PMCID: PMC3599572  PMID: 23136830
Health Belief Model; STI testing; Surinamese; Dutch-Antilleans; Subjective norms; Culturally relevant
6.  Promoting STI testing among senior vocational students in Rotterdam, the Netherlands: effects of a cluster randomized study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:937.
Adolescents are a risk group for acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the Netherlands, senior vocational school students are particular at risk. However, STI test rates among adolescents are low and interventions that promote testing are scarce. To enhance voluntary STI testing, an intervention was designed and evaluated in senior vocational schools. The intervention combined classroom health education with sexual health services at the school site. The purpose of this study was to assess the combined and single effects on STI testing of health education and school-based sexual health services.
In a cluster-randomized study the intervention was evaluated in 24 schools, using three experimental conditions: 1) health education, 2) sexual health services; 3) both components; and a control group. STI testing was assessed by self reported behavior and registrations at regional sexual health services. Follow-up measurements were performed at 1, 3, and 6-9 months. Of 1302 students present at baseline, 739 (57%) completed at least 1 follow-up measurement, of these students 472 (64%) were sexually experienced, and considered to be susceptible for the intervention. Multi-level analyses were conducted. To perform analyses according to the principle of intention-to-treat, missing observations at follow-up on the outcome measure were imputed with multiple imputation techniques. Results were compared with the complete cases analysis.
Sexually experienced students that received the combined intervention of health education and sexual health services reported more STI testing (29%) than students in the control group (4%) (OR = 4.3, p < 0.05). Test rates in the group that received education or sexual health services only were 5.7% and 19.9%, not reaching statistical significance in multilevel analyses. Female students were more often tested then male students: 21.5% versus 5.4%. The STI-prevalence in the study group was low with 1.4%.
Despite a low dose of intervention that was received by the students and a high attrition, we were able to show an intervention effect among sexually experienced students on STI testing. This study confirmed our hypothesis that offering health education to vocational students in combination with sexual health services at school sites is more effective in enhancing STI testing than offering services or education only.
PMCID: PMC3285102  PMID: 22177021
7.  A qualitative study of the coverage of influenza vaccination on Dutch news sites and social media websites 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:547.
Information about influenza and the effectiveness of vaccination against influenza is largely available on the Internet, and may influence individual decision making about participation in future influenza vaccination rounds. E-health information has often been found to be inaccurate, or even to contradict Health Authority recommendations, especially when it concerns controversial topics.
By means of an online media monitoring programme, Dutch news sites and social media websites were scanned for the Dutch counterparts of the terms influenza, vaccination, vaccine and epidemic during February, March and April 2012. Data were processed with QSR NVivo 8.0 and analysed using a general inductive approach.
Three overarching themes were found in both media sources: (1) the (upcoming) influenza epidemic, (2) general information regarding the virus, its prevention and treatment, and (3) uncertainty and mistrust regarding influenza vaccination. Social media tended to report earlier on developments such as the occurrence of an influenza epidemic. The greatest difference was that in social media, influenza was not considered to be a serious disease, and more opposition to the flu shot was expressed in social media, as compared to news media.
News media and social media discussed the same topics regarding influenza, but differed in message tone. Whereas news media reports tended to be more objective and non-judgmental, social media more critically evaluated the harmfulness of influenza and the necessity of the flu shot. Media may influence decision making and behaviours of Internet users and may thereby influence the success of vaccination campaigns and recommendations made by health authorities. Social media may be more of a problem in this sense, since it is neither controlled nor censored. Future research should investigate the actual impact of Internet media on the influenza decision making process of its users.
PMCID: PMC3679872  PMID: 23738769
E-health; Social media; Influenza; Influenza vaccination
8.  Changing mobility patterns and road mortality among pre-license teens in a late licensing country: an epidemiological study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:333.
Whereas the safety of teens in early licensing countries has been extensively studied, little is known about the safety of pre-license teens in late licensing countries, where these teens also may be at risk. This risk exists because of the combination of a) increasing use of travel modes with a high injury risk, such as bicycles and mopeds, b) inexperience, and c) teens’ developmental stage, known to be associated with risk taking and novelty seeking, especially among males. To explore the magnitude and nature of pre-license road risk, this study analysed epidemiological data from the Netherlands, and hypothesized that in this late licensing country, ‘independent travel’ and the use of riskier modes of transport increase among pre-license teens 10 to 17 years of age, resulting in higher fatality rates, with ‘experience’ and ‘gender’ as risk modifying factors.
National travel and fatality data of pre-license adolescents in the Netherlands were analysed by traffic role (cyclist, pedestrian, car passenger and moped rider), and compared to a younger age group (0–9 years) and an older age group (18+ years).
The study of travel data showed that teens migrate from being car occupants to being users of riskier modes of transport, specifically bicycles and mopeds. This migration resulted in a strong rise in road fatalities, illustrating the importance of mobility patterns for understanding changes in road fatalities in this age group. The data further suggested a protective role of early cycle experience for young adolescent cyclists, particularly for young males. But further study into the underlying mechanism is needed to confirm this relationship. Moped risk was extremely high, especially among young males, and even higher than that of young male car drivers.
The study confirmed the importance of changes in mobility patterns for understanding the rising road mortality when youngsters enter into their teens. The focus on fatalities has led to an underestimation of the magnitude of the problem because of the physical resilience of young adolescents that leads to high survival rates but probably also to long term disabilities. In addition, to explore the generalizability of these results, international comparisons among and between early and late licensing countries are necessary, especially in relation to moped riding as an alternative for car driving.
PMCID: PMC3636125  PMID: 23577703
Modal split; Late licensing; Early adolescence; Road risk; Moped riders; Cyclists
9.  Qualitative evaluation of the Teenage Mothers Project in Uganda: a community-based empowerment intervention for unmarried teenage mothers 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:816.
A large proportion of unmarried teenage mothers in Uganda face physical, psychological, and social problems after pregnancy and childbirth, such as obstetric complications, lack of education, and stigmatisation in their communities. The Teenage Mothers Project (TMP) in Eastern Uganda empowers unmarried teenage mothers to cope with the consequences of early pregnancy and motherhood. Since 2000, 1036 unmarried teenage mothers, their parents, and community leaders participated in economic and social empowerment interventions. The present study explored the changes resulting from the TMP as well as factors that either enabled or inhibited these changes.
Semi-structured interviews (N = 23) were conducted with former teenage mothers , community leaders, and project implementers, and lifeline histories were obtained from former teenage mothers (N = 9). Quantitative monitoring data regarding demographic and social characteristics of teenage mother participants (N = 1036) were analysed.
The findings suggest that, overall, the TMP seems to have contributed to the well-being of unmarried teenage mothers and to a supportive social environment. It appears that the project contributed to supportive community norms towards teenage mothers’ position and future opportunities, increased agency, improved coping with early motherhood and stigma, continued education, and increased income generation by teenage mothers. The study findings also suggest limited change in disapproving community norms regarding out-of-wedlock sex and pregnancy, late active enrolment of teenage mothers in the project (i.e., ten months after delivery of the child), and differences in the extent to which parents provided support.
It is concluded that strengths of the community-based TMP seem to be its socio-ecological approach, the participatory planning with community leaders and other stakeholders, counselling of parents and unmarried teenage mothers, and the emphasis on education and income generation. The project can improve by earlier active participation of unmarried pregnant adolescents and increased support for parents.
PMCID: PMC3846560  PMID: 24011141
Empowerment; Stigma; Teenage pregnancy; Qualitative evaluation; Agency; Community; Social change
10.  Reasons for compliance or noncompliance with advice to test for hepatitis C via an internet-mediated blood screening service: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:293.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mainly transmitted by exposure to infected blood, and can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Since the onset of HCV and the development of liver cirrhosis usually are asymptomatic, many HCV-infected individuals are still undiagnosed. To identify individuals infected with HCV in the general population, a low threshold, internet-mediated blood testing service was set up. We performed a qualitative study examining reasons for compliance and noncompliance with advice to test for HCV via the online blood testing service.
Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 33 website visitors who had been advised to test for HCV (18 testers, 15 non-testers). Transcribed interviews were analyzed qualitatively and interpreted using psychosocial theories of health behavior.
Reasons for testing pertaining to the online service were: the testing procedure is autonomous, personalized test advice is provided online, reminder emails are sent, and there is an online planning tool. Reasons for testing not specific to the online service were: knowing one's status can prevent liver disease and further transmission of HCV, HCV is curable, testing can provide reassurance, physical complaints are present, and there is liver disease in one's social environment. Service-related reasons for not testing pertained to inconvenient testing facilities, a lack of commitment due to the low threshold character of the service, computer/printing problems, and incorrectly interpreting an online planning tool. The reasons for not testing that are not specific to the online service were: the belief that personal risk is low, the absence of symptoms, low perceived urgency for testing and treatment, fear of the consequences of a positive test result, avoiding threatening information, and a discouraging social environment.
Features specific to the online service played a significant role in motivation to test for HCV above and beyond the more conventional perceived health benefits of HCV testing. However, some online specific features were considered problematic and need to be adapted. Methods and strategies for dealing with these impeding factors and for improving compliance with testing via the online service are outlined.
PMCID: PMC3115858  PMID: 21569224
11.  Perceived risk, anxiety, and behavioural responses of the general public during the early phase of the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in the Netherlands: results of three consecutive online surveys 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:2.
Research into risk perception and behavioural responses in case of emerging infectious diseases is still relatively new. The aim of this study was to examine perceptions and behaviours of the general public during the early phase of the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in the Netherlands.
Two cross-sectional and one follow-up online survey (survey 1, 30 April-4 May; survey 2, 15-19 June; survey 3, 11-20 August 2009). Adults aged 18 years and above participating in a representative Internet panel were invited (survey 1, n = 456; survey 2, n = 478; follow-up survey 3, n = 934). Main outcome measures were 1) time trends in risk perception, feelings of anxiety, and behavioural responses (survey 1-3) and 2) factors associated with taking preventive measures and strong intention to comply with government-advised preventive measures in the future (survey 3).
Between May and August 2009, the level of knowledge regarding Influenza A (H1N1) increased, while perceived severity of the new flu, perceived self-efficacy, and intention to comply with preventive measures decreased. The perceived reliability of information from the government decreased from May to August (62% versus 45%). Feelings of anxiety decreased from May to June, and remained stable afterwards. From June to August 2009, perceived vulnerability increased and more respondents took preventive measures (14% versus 38%). Taking preventive measures was associated with no children in the household, high anxiety, high self-efficacy, more agreement with statements on avoidance, and paying much attention to media information regarding Influenza A (H1N1). Having a strong intention to comply with government-advised preventive measures in the future was associated with higher age, high perceived severity, high anxiety, high perceived efficacy of measures, high self-efficacy, and finding governmental information to be reliable.
Decreasing trends over time in perceived severity and anxiety are consistent with the reality: the clinical picture of influenza turned out to be mild in course of time. Although (inter)national health authorities initially overestimated the case fatality rate, the public stayed calm and remained to have a relatively high intention to comply with preventive measures.
PMCID: PMC3091536  PMID: 21199571
12.  Correlates of STI testing among vocational school students in the Netherlands 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:725.
Adolescents are at risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, test rates among adolescents in the Netherlands are low and effective interventions that encourage STI testing are scarce. Adolescents who attend vocational schools are particularly at risk for STI. The purpose of this study is to inform the development of motivational health promotion messages by identifying the psychosocial correlates of STI testing intention among adolescents with sexual experience attending vocational schools.
This study was conducted among 501 students attending vocational schools aged 16 to 25 years (mean 18.3 years ± 2.1). Data were collected via a web-based survey exploring relationships, sexual behavior and STI testing behavior. Items measuring the psychosocial correlates of testing were derived from Fishbein's Integrative Model. Data were subjected to multiple regression analyses.
Students reported substantial sexual risk behavior and low intention to participate in STI testing. The model explained 39% of intention to engage in STI testing. The most important predictor was attitude. Perceived norms, perceived susceptibility and test site characteristics were also significant predictors.
The present study provides important and relevant empirical input for the development of health promotion interventions aimed at motivating adolescents at vocational schools in the Netherlands to participate in STI testing. Health promotion interventions developed for this group should aim to change attitudes, address social norms and increase personal risk perception for STI while also promoting the accessibility of testing facilities.
PMCID: PMC3009645  PMID: 21106064
13.  Methods for environmental change; an exploratory study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1037.
While the interest of health promotion researchers in change methods directed at the target population has a long tradition, interest in change methods directed at the environment is still developing. In this survey, the focus is on methods for environmental change; especially about how these are composed of methods for individual change (‘Bundling’) and how within one environmental level, organizations, methods differ when directed at the management (‘At’) or applied by the management (‘From’).
The first part of this online survey dealt with examining the ‘bundling’ of individual level methods to methods at the environmental level. The question asked was to what extent the use of an environmental level method would involve the use of certain individual level methods. In the second part of the survey the question was whether there are differences between applying methods directed ‘at’ an organization (for instance, by a health promoter) versus ‘from’ within an organization itself. All of the 20 respondents are experts in the field of health promotion.
Methods at the individual level are frequently bundled together as part of a method at a higher ecological level. A number of individual level methods are popular as part of most of the environmental level methods, while others are not chosen very often. Interventions directed at environmental agents often have a strong focus on the motivational part of behavior change.
There are different approaches targeting a level or being targeted from a level. The health promoter will use combinations of motivation and facilitation. The manager will use individual level change methods focusing on self-efficacy and skills. Respondents think that any method may be used under the right circumstances, although few endorsed coercive methods.
Taxonomies of theoretical change methods for environmental change should include combinations of individual level methods that may be bundled and separate suggestions for methods targeting a level or being targeted from a level. Future research needs to cover more methods to rate and to be rated. Qualitative data may explain some of the surprising outcomes, such as the lack of large differences and the avoidance of coercion. Taxonomies should include the theoretical parameters that limit the effectiveness of the method.
PMCID: PMC3533988  PMID: 23190712
Behavior change method; Environment; Health promotion; Intervention
14.  Reactions to threatening health messages 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1011.
Threatening health messages that focus on severity are popular, but frequently have no effect or even a counterproductive effect on behavior change. This paradox (i.e. wide application despite low effectiveness) may be partly explained by the intuitive appeal of threatening communication: it may be hard to predict the defensive reactions occurring in response to fear appeals. We examine this hypothesis by using two studies by Brown and colleagues, which provide evidence that threatening health messages in the form of distressing imagery in anti-smoking and anti-alcohol campaigns cause defensive reactions.
We simulated both Brown et al. experiments, asking participants to estimate the reactions of the original study subjects to the threatening health information (n = 93). Afterwards, we presented the actual original study outcomes. One week later, we assessed whether this knowledge of the actual study outcomes helped participants to more successfully estimate the effectiveness of the threatening health information (n = 72).
Results showed that participants were initially convinced of the effectiveness of threatening health messages and were unable to anticipate the defensive reactions that in fact occurred. Furthermore, these estimates did not improve after participants had been explained the dynamics of threatening communication as well as what the effects of the threatening communication had been in reality.
These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the effectiveness of threatening health messages is intuitively appealing. What is more, providing empirical evidence against the use of threatening health messages has very little effect on this intuitive appeal.
PMCID: PMC3575362  PMID: 23171445
Threatening health messages; Defensive reactions; Smokers; Drinkers
15.  Correlates of delayed sexual intercourse and condom use among adolescents in Uganda: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:817.
Comprehensive sex education, including the promotion of consistent condom use, is still an important intervention strategy in tackling unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Ugandan adolescents. This study examines predictors of the intention to use a condom and the intention to delay sexual intercourse among secondary school students (aged 12–20) in Uganda.
A school-based sample was drawn from 48 secondary schools throughout Uganda. Participants (N = 1978) completed a survey in English measuring beliefs regarding pregnancy, STIs and HIV and AIDS, attitudes, social norms and self-efficacy towards condom use and abstinence/delay, intention to use a condom and intention to delay sexual intercourse. As secondary sexual abstinence is one of the recommended ways for preventing HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies among the sexually experienced, participants with and without previous sexual experience were compared.
For adolescents without sexual experience (virgins), self-efficacy, perceived social norms and attitude towards condom use predicted the intention to use condoms. Among those with sexual experience (non-virgins), only perceived social norm was a significant predictor. The intention to delay sexual intercourse was, however, predicted similarly for both groups, with attitudes, perceived social norm and self-efficacy being significant predictors.
This study has established relevant predictors of intentions of safe sex among young Ugandans and has shown that the intention to use condoms is motivated by different factors depending on previous sexual experience. A segmented approach to intervention development and implementation is thus recommended.
PMCID: PMC3503743  PMID: 22998762
Ugandan adolescents; Delayed sexual intercourse; Condom use; Attitudes; Social norms; Self-efficacy; Segmented approach; sub-Saharan Africa
16.  Behavioural intentions in response to an influenza pandemic 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:174.
Little is known regarding which behavioural responses can be expected if an influenza pandemic were to occur.
A survey comprising questions based on risk perception theories, in particular PMT, was conducted with a Dutch sample.
Although fear that an influenza pandemic may occur was high, participants do not feel well informed. General practitioners and local health authorities were considered trustworthy sources of information and the information considered most urgent pertained to which protective measures should be taken. Participants reported an intention to comply with recommendations regarding protective measures. However, response and self efficacy were low. Maladaptive behaviours can be expected. Increasing numbers of ill individuals and school closures are also expected to lead to a decreased work force. Participants indicated wanting antiviral drugs even if the supply were to be insufficient.
Messages regarding health protective behaviours from local health authorities should anticipate the balance between overreacting and underreacting. Also, when protective recommendations from health professionals conflict with company policies, it is unclear how employees will react.
PMCID: PMC2861057  PMID: 20353568
17.  Evaluation of a school-based HIV prevention intervention among Yemeni adolescents 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:279.
This article describes an evaluation of a school-based peer education intervention for HIV prevention among students in twenty seven high schools in Aden, Yemen. The intervention was developed after a survey among the same population in 2005, which revealed a high level of stigma towards people living with HIV (PLWH) and a low level of HIV knowledge.
In a quasi-experimental design students who received the peer education intervention (78.6%) were compared with students who did not receive the intervention (21.4%). No systematic procedure was applied in selecting students for the intervention condition. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire from a sample of 2510 students from all 27 high-schools in Aden governorate. To increase internal validity, students were also compared with a cohort control sample surveyed in 2005, which was a random sample of 2274 students from the same schools.
Sixty eight percent of students targeted by peer education had good knowledge scores, compared with 43.3% of students not targeted by peer education (χ2 = (df = 1) = 111.15, p < .01). Multi-level regression analysis revealed that, although there was a significant difference among schools, the intervention effect of peer education at the individual level was significant; students who received peer education had a statistically higher knowledge score(9.24 out of 12.0) compared with those not targeted (7.89 out of 12.0), OR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.04-4.27, p < .05). Compared with the 2005 cohort control sample, students targeted by peer education had better knowledge on the modes of transmission and prevention and fewer misconceptions; and knowledge on the use of condoms increased from 49.4% to 67.8%. In addition, students who received the peer education interventions suggested significantly more actions to provide care and support for PLWH. Also, the levels of stigma and discrimination were much higher among the 2005 cohort control group, compared with those who received the peer education intervention.
The school-based peer education intervention has succeeded in improving levels of knowledge on modes of transmission and prevention, and in decreasing levels of stigma and discrimination in a culturally conservative setting.
PMCID: PMC3112119  PMID: 21548968
18.  The Active plus protocol: systematic development of two theory- and evidence-based tailored physical activity interventions for the over-fifties 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:399.
Limited data are available on the development, implementation and evaluation processes of physical activity promotion programmes among older adults. More integrative insights into interventions describing the planned systematic development, implementation and evaluation are needed.
Methods and design
The purpose of this study is to give an integrative insight into the development of the Active plus programme applying the six-step Intervention Mapping protocol. The Active plus programme consisted of two theory- and evidence-based tailored physical activity promotion interventions, both comprising three tailored letters delivered over four months and aimed at raising awareness of insufficient physical activity, and stimulating physical activity initiation and maintenance among the over-fifties.
The first intervention, the basic tailored intervention, provided tailored letters that intervened on the psychosocial determinants of physical activity. The second intervention, the intervention plus, provided the same tailored information but additionally provided tailored information about physical activity opportunities in the specific environment in which the older adults lived. This environment-based component also provided access to a forum and e-buddy system on a website. A plan for implementation and evaluation is also described.
The planned development of the Active plus programme resulted in two theory- and evidence-based tailored physical activity interventions targeted at the over-fifties.
Trial Registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR 920
PMCID: PMC2613403  PMID: 19055806
19.  Predictors of healthcare professionals' intention and behaviour to encourage physical activity in patients with cardiovascular risk factors 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:246.
Healthcare professionals can play a crucial role in optimizing the health status of patients with cardiovascular risk factors (abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides and elevated blood glucose). In order to do this, it is imperative that we understand the social-cognitive determinants (including habits) that underlie healthcare professionals' intention and the corresponding behavior of actually encouraging patients with cardiovascular risk factors to engage in physical activity.
In this longitudinal Professionals' Intention and Behavior (PIB) study, healthcare professionals (N = 278, aged 20-61 years with approximately 60% having attained an education level exceeding bachelor's degree, types of healthcare professionals 60% in physiotherapy and 40% in nursing) completed online surveys measuring the social-cognitive determinants of healthcare professionals' intention and the corresponding behavior of actually encouraging patients with cardiovascular risk factors to engage in physical activity.
Social-cognitive determinants accounted for 41% (p < .001) of the variance in healthcare professionals' intention to encourage physical activity among cardiovascular patients. Important correlates of intention were attitude (β = .443, p < .001), subjective norms (β = .201, p < .001) and perceived behavioral control (β = .137, p < .01). With respect to the self-reported behavior of encouraging patients, social-cognitive determinants accounted for 29% (p < .001) of the variance. Intentions (β = .311 p < .001), habit (β = .163 p < .01), and barriers (β = -.239 p < .001) were significant correlates of professionals' behavior of encouraging patients to engage in physical activity.
We explored the congruence between healthcare professionals' intention to encourage patients and the self-reported behavior of encouraging patients. We found that intention and behavior were congruent in 39.7% of the healthcare professionals. Additionally, the intention to encourage and the corresponding behavior of encouraging was incongruent in 31.7% of the healthcare professionals.
In the prevention of cardiovascular disease, healthcare professionals' intention to encourage physical activity among patients and subsequent behavior of encouraging patients is important for the improvement of patients' cardiovascular risk profiles. We found that the intentions and self-reported behavior of healthcare professionals working with patients with cardiovascular risk factors can be predicted by social-cognitive determinants thus implying that efforts to change and strengthen the intention-behavior relationship of healthcare professionals may have beneficial effects for cardiovascular risk patients (Trial ID: ECP-92).
PMCID: PMC3104375  PMID: 21504566
20.  Cardiovascular risk profile: Cross-sectional analysis of motivational determinants, physical fitness and physical activity 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:592.
Cardiovascular risk factors are associated with physical fitness and, to a lesser extent, physical activity. Lifestyle interventions directed at enhancing physical fitness in order to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases should be extended. To enable the development of effective lifestyle interventions for people with cardiovascular risk factors, we investigated motivational, social-cognitive determinants derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and other relevant social psychological theories, next to physical activity and physical fitness.
In the cross-sectional Utrecht Police Lifestyle Intervention Fitness and Training (UP-LIFT) study, 1298 employees (aged 18 to 62) were asked to complete online questionnaires regarding social-cognitive variables and physical activity. Cardiovascular risk factors and physical fitness (peak VO2) were measured.
For people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors (78.7% of the total population), social-cognitive variables accounted for 39% (p < .001) of the variance in the intention to engage in physical activity for 60 minutes every day. Important correlates of intention to engage in physical activity were attitude (beta = .225, p < .001), self-efficacy (beta = .271, p < .001), descriptive norm (beta = .172, p < .001) and barriers (beta = -.169, p < .01). Social-cognitive variables accounted for 52% (p < .001) of the variance in physical active behaviour (being physical active for 60 minutes every day). The intention to engage in physical activity (beta = .469, p < .001) and self-efficacy (beta = .243, p < .001) were, in turn, important correlates of physical active behavior.
In addition to the prediction of intention to engage in physical activity and physical active behavior, we explored the impact of the intensity of physical activity. The intentsity of physical activity was only significantly related to physical active behavior (beta = .253, p < .01, R2 = .06, p < .001). An important goal of our study was to investigate the relationship between physical fitness, the intensity of physical activity and social-cognitive variables. Physical fitness (R2 = .23, p < .001) was positively associated with physical active behavior (beta = .180, p < .01), self-efficacy (beta = .180, p < .01) and the intensity of physical activity (beta = .238, p < .01).
For people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors, 39.9% had positive intentions to engage in physical activity and were also physically active, and 10.5% had a low intentions but were physically active. 37.7% had low intentions and were physically inactive, and about 11.9% had high intentions but were physically inactive.
This study contributes to our ability to optimize cardiovascular risk profiles by demonstrating an important association between physical fitness and social-cognitive variables. Physical fitness can be predicted by physical active behavior as well as by self-efficacy and the intensity of physical activity, and the latter by physical active behavior.
Physical active behavior can be predicted by intention, self-efficacy, descriptive norms and barriers. Intention to engage in physical activity by attitude, self-efficacy, descriptive norms and barriers. An important input for lifestyle changes for people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors was that for ca. 40% of the population the intention to engage in physical activity was in line with their actual physical active behavior.
PMCID: PMC3091554  PMID: 20929529
21.  Social-cognitive correlates of risky adolescent cycling behavior 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:408.
Bicycle use entails high safety and health risks especially for adolescents. Most safety education programs aimed at adolescents focus on accident statistics and risk perceptions. This paper proposes the investigation of the social-cognitive correlates of risky cycling behaviors of adolescents prior to developing safety education programs.
Secondary school students aged 13 to 18 years (n = 1446) filled out questionnaires regarding bicycle behavior, risky intentions, accident experience, and social-cognitive determinants as suggested by the theory of planned behavior.
Regression analysis revealed that the proximal variables (i.e., self-efficacy, attitudes towards drunk driving, personal norm regarding safekeeping of self and others, and compared risk) were able to predict 17% of the variance of risky behavior and 23% of the variance of risky intentions. The full model explained respectively 29% and 37% of the variance in risky behavior and risky intentions. Adolescents with positive attitudes towards risky behavior and low sense of responsibility report risky behavior, even when having been (close to) an accident.
Adolescents realize whether they are risk takers or not. This implies that the focus of education programs should not be on risk perceptions, but on decreasing positive attitudes towards alcohol in traffic and increasing sense of responsibility instead. Cognitions regarding near accidents should be studied, the role of safe cycling self-efficacy is unclear.
PMCID: PMC2915958  PMID: 20624293
22.  A structured review of reasons for ecstasy use and related behaviours: pointers for future research 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:230.
While the health risks of using ecstasy warrant intervention development, a recent meta-analysis of determinants of ecstasy use identified a number of lacunae in the literature. Specifically, no studies were included that address behaviours other than 'using ecstasy' (e.g. 'trying out ecstasy' or 'ceasing ecstasy use'). However, because meta-analyses aim to integrate study results quantitatively, the resulting rigid exclusion criteria cause many studies to be discarded on the basis of their qualitative methodology. Such qualitative studies may nonetheless provide valuable insights to guide future research. To provide an overview of these insights regarding ecstasy use, the current study summarizes and combines what is known from qualitative and exploratory quantitative literature on ecstasy use.
The databases PsycINFO and MedLine were searched for publications reporting reasons for ecstasy use and related behaviour, and the results were structured and discussed per behaviour and compared over behaviours.
Two main categories of reasons were found. The first category comprised reasons to start using ecstasy, use ecstasy, use ecstasy more often, and refrain from ceasing ecstasy use. The second category comprised reasons to refrain from starting to use ecstasy, use less ecstasy, and cease using ecstasy. Reasons for related behaviours within each of these two categories appear to differ, but not as substantially as between the two categories. A large number of reasons that were not yet explored in quantitative research emerged.
The current summary and combination of exploratory studies yields useful lists of reasons for each behaviour. Before these lists can inform interventions, however, they beg quantitative verification. Also, similarity of determinant configurations of different behaviours can be assessed by addressing determinants of several behaviours in one study. Another important finding is that meta-analytical integration of the literature may overlook important findings and implications. Thus, qualitative reviews remain useful instruments in setting the research agenda.
PMCID: PMC2717953  PMID: 19594926
23.  Effective elements of school health promotion across behavioral domains: a systematic review of reviews 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:182.
Most school health education programs focus on a single behavioral domain. Integrative programs that address multiple behaviors may be more efficient, but only if the elements of change are similar for these behaviors. The objective of this study was to examine which effective elements of school health education are similar across three particular behavioral domains.
A systematic review of reviews of the effectiveness of school-based health promotion programs was conducted for the domains of substance abuse, sexual behavior, and nutrition. The literature search spanned the time period between 1995 and October 2006 and included three databases, websites of review centers and backward search. Fifty-five reviews and meta-analyses met predetermined relevance and publication criteria and were included. Data was extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. A standardized data extraction form was used, with detailed attention to effective elements pertaining to program goals, development, content, methods, facilitator, components and intensity. Two assessors rated the quality of reviews as strong, moderate or weak. We included only strong and moderate reviews in two types of analysis: one based on interpretation of conflicting results, the other on a specific vote-counting rule.
Thirty six reviews were rated strong, 6 moderate, and 13 weak. A multitude of effective elements was identified in the included reviews and many elements were similar for two or more domains. In both types of analysis, five elements with evidence from strong reviews were found to be similar for all three domains: use of theory; addressing social influences, especially social norms; addressing cognitive-behavioral skills; training of facilitators; and multiple components. Two additional elements had positive results in all domains with the rule-based method of analysis, but had inconclusive results in at least one domain with the interpretion-based method of analysis: parent involvement and a larger number of sessions.
Five effective elements of school health promotion were found to be similar across the three behavioral domains examined (substance abuse, sexual behavior, nutrition). An integrative program that addresses the three domains seems feasible. The five elements are primary candidates to include in programs targeting these behaviors.
PMCID: PMC2702385  PMID: 19523195
24.  Careers in ecstasy use: do ecstasy users cease of their own accord? Implications for intervention development 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:376.
Ecstasy (MDMA, 3, 4-methylenodioxymethamphetamine) use is widespread in the Netherlands, with a lifetime prevalence of 4.3%, and two-thirds of dance party visitors being ecstasy users. However, research into Dutch ecstasy use patterns is lacking. In addition, recent studies suggest that ecstasy users cease their use automatically, which implies that interventions would do better to better focus on the promotion of harm reduction strategies than on inducing cessation. The current study addresses this process of ecstasy cessation.
32 participants from the Dutch dance scene were interviewed, and the results were systematically analysed using NVivo.
Most ecstasy users had started to use out of curiosity. During use, users applied a host of harm reduction strategies, albeit inconsistently and sometimes incorrectly. Most users appeared to cease ecstasy use automatically because of loss of interest or changing life circumstances (e.g. a new job or relationship).
It appears that cessation of ecstasy use is largely determined by environmental variables and not by health concerns. This supports the idea that health promotion resources are better spent in trying to promote consistent and correct application of harm reduction practices than in trying to induce cessation.
PMCID: PMC2583996  PMID: 18957117

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