Objective: Compensatory health beliefs (CHBs), defined as beliefs that healthy behaviours can compensate for unhealthy behaviours, may be one possible factor hindering people in adopting a healthier lifestyle. This study examined the contribution of CHBs to the prediction of adolescents’ physical activity within the theoretical framework of the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA).
Design: The study followed a prospective survey design with assessments at baseline (T1) and two weeks later (T2).
Method: Questionnaire data on physical activity, HAPA variables and CHBs were obtained twice from 430 adolescents of four different Swiss schools. Multilevel modelling was applied.
Results: CHBs added significantly to the prediction of intentions and change in intentions, in that higher CHBs were associated with lower intentions to be physically active at T2 and a reduction in intentions from T1 to T2. No effect of CHBs emerged for the prediction of self-reported levels of physical activity at T2 and change in physical activity from T1 to T2.
Conclusion: Findings emphasise the relevance of examining CHBs in the context of an established health behaviour change model and suggest that CHBs are of particular importance in the process of intention formation.