Health embodiment: The relationship between self-care agency and health-promoting behaviors




Davidson, Janice

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The purpose of the study was to determine the predictive value of a health embodiment theorem through the analysis of the relationship of health-promoting behaviors to self-care agency. The nature of the problem was a comparison of self-care agency with health-promoting behaviors. Health embodiment was formalized through Gibbs's (1972) paradigm.

The holistic triangulated research utilized a purposeful sampling technique to assess the criterion variable, predictor variables, and demographic data in 270 elderly Mennonite subjects. Self-care agency was operationalized by the Exercise of Self-Care Agency Scale (Kearney & Fleischer, 1979) as the criterion variable. Health-promoting behaviors were operationalized by the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile (Walker, Sechrist, & Pender, 1987) as the predictor variables.

Two pilot studies documented initial reliability and content validity of the instrumentation. Reliability for the total study sample (N = 270) was established at.89 for the Exercise Self-Care Agency Scale and.94 for the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile. A principal components factor analysis with orthogonal rotation by subscale demonstrated construct validity which indicated that the two tools measure different constructs.

Quantitative findings revealed that a statistical (p <.01) relationship exists between exercise of self-care agency and each of the health-promoting behaviors: self-actualization, health responsibility, exercise, nutrition, interpersonal support, and stress management. Further findings revealed a significant (p <.01) relationship between the criterion variable and the demographic variables of perceived health status and occupation. Additionally, the variables of self-actualization, exercise, marital status, and nutrition were found to be most predictive (69%) of the ability to perform self-care.

Qualitative findings were provided through content analysis which revealed that the Mennonite elderly subjects believed Christian lifestyle, good diet, and hard work most influenced individual health status. The qualitative findings lend support to the quantitative findings of the study.

The results of the study support the premise that a significant relationship exists between health-promoting behavior and the exercise of self-care agency that could be called health embodiment. Moreover, the predictive value of the variables isolated suggests that a health embodiment equation is attainable through further exploration of the relationships identified.



Health embodiment theorem, Health behavior, Self-care