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H 571: Principles of Health Behavior


This guide will help you find research literature on theory-informed determinants of health behavior and evidence-based (theory-informed) interventions to support your H571 projects. There is no magic combination of search words that will always find predictors of health behavior articles vs evaluation of intervention articles. Including search terms related to constructs or theoretical models will help with "predictor" articles. Including terms like "program evaluation" or "assessment" will help with finding articles that address specific interventions. PLEASE read the abstracts to start to determine if the article is a "predictor" article or an article that evaluates the efficacy of an intervention.


There are also online collections of Evidence-based Interventions (EBIs) that you can use to identify known interventions based on accepted models or theories (see the Find Evidence Based Interventions tab). Here is an example of an intervention designed to reduce HIV transmission risk and improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy. The document clearly states the theoretical models for the intervention and at the end provides a link to the study that served as the basis for program evaluation.

Suggested Databases for H 571

Begin Your Search

Begin by entering keywords or phrases into the PubMed basic search box. See the image below or this quick PubMed Simple Subject Search video tutorial. Use keywords or terms that identify one or more of the behavioral constructs that you are examining in relation to your overarching topic (or use the name of the theory or model itself). In the example search below, "self-efficacy" is a construct  in the Transtheoretical Model and in the Health Belief Model.

image of pubmed simple search box with search term


Look for More Relevant Terms

You can narrow (or broaden) your initial PubMed search (or search in another database) by using terms that are specific to the PubMed database (or another database you are using). Look for these terms in the MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) area of PubMed records (in other databases look for terms in the Subject or Descriptor section of the record). NOTE: In PubMed, very new article records will not yet have MeSH terms assigned, but your search terms may still be present in the title or abstract.

image of mesh section of pubmed record


Locating Evidence-Based Research

When searching the literature for research that demonstrates that a particular intervention works or doesn't work, add helpful keywords or phrases (e.g. Program Evaluation) to your search strategy. Yuu can also use the Article Type filter in PubMed (and other databases) to refine your results to these types of articles. NOTE: You can "customize" the filter to display the types of articles that typically convey evidence.


Step 1: Click on "Customize" in the Article Type filter area.

image of article type filter


Step 2: Select the article types you want to filter to in the search results and click the Show button.

image of article type customize options


Step 3: Click on the various article types that now show in your Article Types filter (you can further customize this later, if needed or desired)

image of customized article type filter



Construct Advanced Searches

PubMed's Advanced Search options can be accessed from the under the default search box or from the search results page (see images below).

image of advanced search link on pubmed basic search


image of advanced search link on results page


From the Advanced Search page, you can tell PubMed to search for terms/phrases in specific PubMed search fields. In some cases, this can help to narrow or focus a search that has too many results. The image below shows a search strategy that tells PubMed to look only for articles where the designated search terms show up in the MeSH field of the article record. Furthermore this strategy tells PubMed to look only for those articles where the term in the MeSH field has been identified as a major (not minor or secondary) concept present in the article (meaning this is what the article primarily addresses).

image of pubmed advanced search page search fields


Also from the Advanced Search page, you can view your searching history and use it to construct new search strategies without retyping all your keywords/phrases. The image below shows a new search constructed from two previous searches.

image of pubmed advanced search history


Get Articles Online (or Request an Article PDF)

Locating articles: In most of the library's databases, look for this button to access your article online.

 360 link to full text

IF you get a message that indicates "No full text" or "Request this item", click the Request from Interlibrary Loan link to ask the library to get the article PDF for you (see image below).

request from interlibrary loan