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Social cognitive aspects of the participation in workplace health promotion as revealed by the theory of planned behavior.

Prev Med; 105: 104-108, 2017 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28890352
Health-promoting efforts strongly depend on individual cognitions such as attitudes as well as social cognitive aspects of the work environment such as leadership and support. Using the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a theoretical frame, participation behavior of employees in courses offered by the workplace health promotion (WHP) program of the German Armed Forces was investigated. Social cognitive aspects of the work environment, such as leadership behaviors by setting an example or optimizing organization of work, were included in the TPB components of subjective norm and perceived behavioral control, which allowed for an investigation of the specific effects of leadership on WHP participation. A survey study with N=1385 members of the German Armed Forces was conducted in 2015 in Germany. Results showed that perceived behavioral control and attitudes towards WHP were the strongest predictors for WHP participation. While subjective norm was positively related to attitudes, it had a slightly negative effect on intention to participate in WHP activities. These findings suggest that the most effective way for leadership to increase WHP participation is to enhance perceived behavioral control. Quite contrary, creating a positive subjective norm regarding WHP participation may even result in psychological reactance.