Volume 20, Issue 4 p. 824-841
Original Article

Beyond single behaviour theory: Adding cross-behaviour cognitions to the health action process approach

Lena Fleig

Corresponding Author

Lena Fleig

Health Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Correspondence should be addressed to Lena Fleig, Health Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, PF 10 Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany (email: [email protected]).Search for more papers by this author
Joy Ngo

Joy Ngo

‎Nutrition Research Foundation, Barcelona Science Park, Spain

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Blanca Roman

Blanca Roman

‎Nutrition Research Foundation, Barcelona Science Park, Spain

EUSES Sports Science, University of Girona, Spain

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Evangelia Ntzani

Evangelia Ntzani

Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece

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Paolo Satta

Paolo Satta

Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine, University of Florence, Italy

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Lisa M. Warner

Lisa M. Warner

Health Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

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Ralf Schwarzer

Ralf Schwarzer

Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Maria L. Brandi

Maria L. Brandi

Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine, University of Florence, Italy

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First published: 25 June 2015
Citations: 21

Abstract

Objectives

Commonly, health behaviour theories have been applied to single behaviours, giving insights into specific behaviours but providing little knowledge on how individuals pursue an overall healthy lifestyle. In the context of diet and physical activity, we investigated the extent to which cross-behaviour cognitions, namely transfer cognitions and compensatory health beliefs, contribute to single behaviour theory.

Design

A total of 767 participants from two European regions (i.e., Germany = 351, southern Europe = 416) completed online questionnaires on physical activity and healthy dietary behaviour, behaviour-specific cognitions (i.e., self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, risk perception, intention, action planning, action control), as well as cross-behaviour cognitions, namely transfer cognitions and compensatory health beliefs.

Methods

Nested path models were specified to investigate the importance of cross-behaviour cognitions over and above behaviour-specific predictors of physical activity and healthy nutrition.

Results

Across both health behaviours, transfer cognitions were positively associated with intention and self-regulatory strategies. Compensatory health beliefs were negatively associated with intention. Action planning and action control mediated the effect of intentions on behaviour.

Conclusions

Cross-behaviour cognitions contribute to single behaviour theory and may explain how individuals regulate more than one health behaviour.

Statement of contribution

What is already known on this subject?

  • Cross-behaviour cognitions are related to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Compensatory health beliefs hinder the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Transfer cognitions encourage the engagement in a healthy lifestyle.

What does this study add?

  • Transfer cognitions were positively associated with intentions, action planning, and action control over and above behaviour-specific cognitions.
  • Compensatory health beliefs were related to intentions only.
  • Both facilitating and debilitating cross-behaviour cognitions need to be studied within a unified multiple behaviour research framework.