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Research topics in health promotion


Admission requirements

N.B. only for Research Master’s students (track Clinical and Health Psychology)


In this course, theories on the determinants of health behaviour and on the processes of behavioural change will be addressed, including issues such as ‘why do people endanger their health?’, or ‘why are good intentions not enough to change behaviour? Students will reflect on the various theoretical models on health behaviour (change) and on their implications for research and practice.

After an introduction into the main theories and models within health behaviour research, students will choose one theoretical construct of their interest, which they will study more in-depth. They will write an analysis of the construct based on a literature review. They will also formulate several research questions, which are likely to lead to theoretical advancement. Finally they will develop a questionnaire to measure the construct, and they will pilot-test its’ applicability in the field. During ten supervised sessions, students will be guided through this process of theory development and research design.

Course objectives

After the course students:

  • Have a basic understanding of the main theories and key constructs within the field of health behaviour (change);

  • Have experience with the application of theory and evidence with respect to understanding and changing health behaviour

  • Are able to recognize the promises and pitfalls of theory-based research in health promotion

  • Have knowledge with regard to the operationalization and assessment of theoretical concepts in the field of health promotion.


Research Topics in Health Promotion (2010-2011):

Mode of instruction

During the fifteen weeks of the course the whole process of intervention planning will be introduced and illustrated. Students will learn how to systematically design and implement an intervention.

  • Week 1: Introduction to the assignment and literature search

  • Week 2: Writing outline theoretical analysis

  • Week 3: Choosing a theory and construct, writing theoretical analysis

  • Week 4: Writing outline empirical analysis

  • Week 5: Writing empirical analysis

  • Week 6: Finalizing theoretical and empirical analyses; RQ

  • Week 7: Writing brief research proposal and conceptual analysis

  • Week 8: Finalizing research proposal and conceptual analysis, design Questionnaire

  • Week 9: Finalizing Questionnaire

  • Week 10: Pilot-testing Questionnaire

  • Week 11: Analyzing pilot-test data

  • Week 12: Writing results and adjustments to Questionnaire

  • Week 13: Finalizing paper, preparing presentation

  • Week 14: Presenting

Assessment method

  • Attendance during sessions

  • Active participation

  • Final paper

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Reading list

  • Abraham, C., Sheeran, P. & Johnston, M. (1998). From health beliefs to self regulation: Theoretical advances in the psychology of action control. Psychology and Health, 13, 569-591.

  • Armitage, C. J. & Conner, M. (2000). Social cognition models and health behaviour: A structured review. Psychology and Health, 15, 173-189

  • Gebhardt WA & Maes S (2001). Integrating social-psychological frameworks for health behaviour research. American Journal of Health Behavior, 25, 528-536.

  • Boynton, P.M. (2004). Hands-on guide to questionnaire research: Administering, analyzing, and reporting your questionnaire. British Medical Journal, 328, 1372-1375.

  • Boynton, P.M & Greenhaigh, T. (2004). Selecting, designing, and developing your questionnaire. British Medical Journal, 2004, 328, 1312-1315.

  • Bowling, A. (2005). Mode of questionnaire administration can have serious effects on data quality. Journal of Public Health, 27(2), 281-291.

  • Stehr-Green, P.A., Stehr-Green, J.K. & Nelson, A. (2005). Focus on field epidemiology: Developing a questionnaire, 2(2), 1-6. To be downloaded from

  • 20-30 additional journal articles

Advised (non-obligatory) readings

  • Conner, M. & Norman, P. (2005). Predicting health behaviour (2nd Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

  • Norman, P., Abraham, C. & Conner, M. (2000). Understanding and changing health behaviour: From health beliefs to self-regulation. Harwood Academic Publishers.

  • Stroebe, W. (2000). Social psychology and health (2nd Ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.


Introduction and enrolment for courses of the first semester will take place on 2 September 2010. Introduction and enrolment for courses of the second semester will take place on 27 January 2011. More information will be available at the website of the Institute of Psychology.

Contact information

Dr. Winnie Gebhardt
Room 2B44
Tel.: 071-527 4084