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Self-prediction and patient health: Influencing health-related behaviors throughself-prophecy.

David E. Sprott, Eric R. Spangenberg, David C. Knuff, Berna Devezer

Med Sci Monit 2006; 12(5): RA85-91

ID: 450298


People asked to make a self-prediction about a socially normative behaviorare significantly more likely (than a comparable control group) to perform the behavior in a manner consistentwith social norms. Making a behavioral self-prediction has been demonstrated to increase attendance toa health club, consumption of healthy snacks, and commitment to a health and fitness assessment. Empirical evidence indicates that this self-prophecy effect is due to dissonance-based motivation generated by theprediction request. In this article, we present self-prediction as a practical and effective tool thathealth care professionals can use to favorably influence a variety of health-related, patient behaviors.Previous studies on health behaviors are aggregated using meta-analytical techniques to determine themagnitude of self-prediction effects on health-related behaviors. To account for potential errors ofexclusion in our analysis, a file drawer analysis is also conducted. Our analysis suggests that self-prophecymanifests as a small- to medium- effect size when used in the context of modifying health-related behaviors.Providing support for the robustness of this effect, our file drawer analysis indicated that 270 furtherstudies with null results would be needed to negate our conclusions regarding the effect. Based on previousresearch and findings of the current meta-analysis, we are confident that health care professionals caneffectively employ self-prediction as a method for promoting healthier behaviors and lifestyles amongtheir patients. Implications for medical practice and allied health fields, as well as areas of futureresearch, are identified.

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