Knowing is not doing: the relationship between health behaviour knowledge and actual health behaviours in people with serious mental illness
Brenda Happell, Robert Stanton, Wendy Hoey, David Scott
Mental Health and Physical Activity
16 March 2014
Low levels of physical activity and poor dietary habits are common in people with serious mental illness and contribute to the poorer overall health and early mortality observed in this population. This paper examines the relationships between health behaviour knowledge and self-reported health behaviours in people with serious mental illness.
We examined the health behaviour knowledge, level of physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables and attitudes towards saturated fat intake in 21 community-based mental health consumers in a regional city in Queensland, Australia. Relationships between dichotomous variables of health behaviour knowledge, physical activity levels, daily fruit and vegetable intake, and attitude toward saturated fat intake were examined using Phi coefficients and point biserial relationships respectively.
The mean score for health behaviour knowledge was 10.2 out of a possible maximum score of 14 points. No statistically significant relationships were observed between the dichotomous variables of health behaviour knowledge and level of physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables or attitudes towards saturated fat intake. A weak statistically significant relationship was observed between raw health knowledge score and the number of daily serves of vegetable.
The lack of significant relationships between health behaviour knowledge and self-reported health behaviours is supported by health behaviour theory which proposes that knowledge alone is insufficient to elicit behaviour. In this regard, people with serious mental illness may not be dissimilar to the general population.