Essay Example on Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) in the Health Sector

Published: 2022-12-18
Essay Example on Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) in the Health Sector
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Health and Social Care Security Motivation
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1563 words
14 min read

The protection motivation theory is a theory that determines how people deal with and make decisions when confronted with either harmful of distress situations in life. The development of the theory is attributed to the provision of contextual clarity to the understanding of fear appeals as proposed by Rogers in 1975. Protection motivation theory is established on the foundation of two appraisals; threat and coping (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005). The decisions made in the context of protection motivation theory are those that seek to offer protection to an individual from probable threats, as such, the argument makes attempts to explain and predict the motivating factors towards an individual's change of behavior through the adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies.

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An appropriately developed theoretical framework is one with the useful guiding principles focusing on the development of physical activity interventions and actions (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005). Because the theory proposes that the different social cognition models predict people's responses, its testing and application cover a broad scope of research.

The health sector has been a common platform for the development of various theoretical frameworks based on the protection motivation theory. A significant reason for such an occurrence is that the approach establishes social-cognitive determinants that are commonly associated with other behavioral approaches such as the Health Belief Model (Plotnikoff et al., 2010). The two theoretical models are both established on the model that perception of a given threat is critical to the voluntary adoption of a particular protective behavior as is with the case of vaccines.

Just as is the case with the health sector, reactions about either actual as well as perceived threats are equally an area of interest for the criminologists, especially in studies involving the fear of crime. While most of the previous work has mainly focused on the identification of what correlates the fear of crime and debate on the conceptualizing aspects of fear's emotive measures (Plotnikoff et al., 2010), little has; however, been tackled on the reasons and the manner of response to such emotive as well as on the assessments on the perceived risks . Such a provision presents that the use of defensive measures has two likely possibilities. While defensive measures can provide a means of protecting oneself from a perceived hard or victimization, it can equally be a futile endeavor (Plotnikoff et al., 2010).

The use of protection motivation theory has been used as a guiding framework in either testing or application in various studies. In Sommestad, Karlzen, and Hallberg's meta-analysis of protection motivation theory and information security behavior, it is determined that an individual's security and the informational security for the organization in which they work is a major contributing factor, identifying the person's willingness to take security precautions. The trio decides that while there is little difference in PMT's efficacy as attributed to voluntary and mandatory security behavior in an organization, the variances and coefficients of correlation stand higher for instances of voluntary behavior (Sommestad, Karlzen & Hallberg, 2015). Such a determination occurs in that it is under incidences of voluntary behavior change that an individual ideally has the opportunity of deciding which appraisal to take; whether threat or coping (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005).

For mandatory security behaviors in organizational settings limits, an individual's coping appraisal as the outcome is already predicted, such as the case of security policies, where an organization limits the trade for costs and benefits (Sommestad, Karlzen & Hallberg, 2015). The study supports PMT in that whenever options are available; then an individual determines the appropriate approach; however, with limitations, one then has limited options and has to adhere to set standards based on the perceived outcome.

From the health perspective, a study by Thrul et al. (2013), decide that the protection motivation theory's appraisals are the critical determinants to an individual's intention towards making engagement in health-related behavior. In such a view, the threat appraisal is attributed to by the fact of perceived severity of a threat of a health threat as well as the perceived vulnerability of an individual following the effect of the negative consequences resulting from the threat (Thrul et al., 2013).

In their study of how the PMT constructs predict smoking-related concurrent and future behavioral intentions and future smoking behavior in adolescents, Thrul et al. (2013), established that self-efficacy plays a stronger contributory factor of concurrent smoking-related behavioral intention. Such a prospect indicates that the ability and confidence of an adolescent to resist the offer of cigarette associates with a high intention to resist, which in turn attributes to a behavior change. Basing on such a determination, it is absolute that the study supports the protection motivation theory that a perceived threat's vulnerability, as well as the consequence of the threat, influences a behavior change as a protective measure.

While the 95% coverage in measles vaccinations as recommended by the WHO in the achievement of herd immunity in Switzerland, PMT seems to a viable direction to look in determining the most effective way in promoting such a vaccination plan (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005). The protection motivation theory draws its strength from the fact that its foundation accounts the threat perceptions that people exhibit based on the severity and vulnerability in the experience of an advert event and the costs associated with it towards the avoidance of such a threat (Camerini et al., 2019). Besides, the element of self-efficacy is equally a significant determinant in the trigger of a motivational, effective, and a cognitive process or action. Ideally, the intention and the prediction of vaccination in adults seems to offer support to PMT's perspective; however, in instances in which one has to decide another as with parents to kids, then there is the amplification of a different cognitive mechanism as well as the responsibility attached. The primary determining factor in such a case is a previous perception associated with a particular vaccine or perceived consequences from past experiences (Camerini et al., 2019), which in turn are the influencing factors.

Protection motivation theory asserts the existence of four central cognitive beliefs as a function of the motivation in the protection of an individual from danger. As a proximal determinant in the protective behavior, the protection motivation is usually measured based on the intention attached. As such, the intentions that mediate the influence on behavioral performance should exhibit a closer association with the cognitive predictors including self-efficacy, vulnerability, severity, and response efficacy (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005).

According to Plotnikoff, Ronald, & Linda (2010), the study determined that the correlation that exists between fear and severity and vulnerability stand firm against the association between severity and vulnerability. As such, in the discussion about the threat appraisal, fear should be equated to the components of severity and vulnerability. While the study bolsters the theory, it equally challenges future studies on the approach to determine whether there exist any potential interrelationships between the variables of threat and coping.

From the social cognitive perspective, the employment of PMT within the physical activity domain is essential in the promotion of the intentions of the physical activity as well as effecting behavior change among the healthy populations (Bui, Mullan & McCaffery, 2013). In participating in physical activity, self-efficacy becomes the strongest predictor, which in turn is influenced by the coping appraisal components (Scarpa & Menzel, 2005). Moreover, establishing a stronger belief on the capability to stage performance as well as in the effectiveness of the coping response stands critical as an approach towards supporting the efficacy of PMT in the physical activity sphere. However, the arousal of fear during the activities could hinder the motivation needed to perform a particular response (Bui, Mullan & McCaffery, 2013).

In the development of an integrated theory of health communication through the combination of protection motivation theory with the various stages of the Trans theoretical model, it is evident that the implicit assumption as used in PMT that self-efficacy, severity, response efficacy, and vulnerability are not equally expressed in all individuals. Such an approach challenges PMT with an establishment that people at different levels of preparedness for change experience different effects of the various predictor variables (Herrmann et al., 2018). Ideally, evidence points to the fact that self-efficacy, severity, response efficacy, and vulnerability vary from precontemplation to the actual action, as in the case study of safe sex practices. For individuals without the thought of making a behavioral change, there is the likelihood of them experiencing higher levels of perceived vulnerability in contrast to those that are already making plans of making such a difference in behavior (Herrmann et al., 2018).


Bui, L., Mullan, B., & McCaffery, K. (2013). Protection motivation theory and physical activity in the general Population: A systematic literature review. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 18(5), 522-542.

Camerini, A., et al. (2019). Using protection motivation theory to predict intention to adhere to official MMR vaccination recommendations in Switzerland. SSM - Population Health, 7, 100321.

Herrmann, L. et al. (2018). A Faculty Development Workshop for High-Value Care Education across Clinical Settings. Mededportal, 14.

Plotnikoff, R., et al. (2010). Protection motivation theory and the prediction of physical activity among adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in a large population sample. British Journal of Health Psychology, 15(3), 643-661.

Scarpa, R., & Menzel, S. (2005). Protection Motivation Theory and Contingent Valuation: Perceived Realism, Threat and WTP Estimates for Biodiversity Protection. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Sommestad, T., Karlzen, H., & Hallberg, J. (2015). A Meta-Analysis of Studies on Protection Motivation Theory and Information Security Behavior. International Journal of Information Security and Privacy, 9(1), 26-46.

Thrul, J., et al. (2013). Adolescents' protection motivation and smoking behaviour. Health Education Research, 28(4), 683-691.

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