Health Behavior

Definition - What does Health Behavior mean?

Health behavior refers to actions that an individual engages in that affect their health either positively or negatively. These can be simple personal choices like hand washing or more complex situations like choosing to live in an area with high air pollution. Within the context of occupational health and safety, health behavior relates to how an employee behaves affecting health and safety and the influences of employer behaviors or programs upon employee health.

WorkplaceTesting explains Health Behavior

Within the workplace, not only do employee behaviors affect their health (using provided safety equipment, staying home when sick, etc) but employer policies and attitudes also affect the health of all employees. Employers can influence good health behavior with policies that are incentivized and safety processes that are easily accessed and understood. Encouraging good health behavior on the part of employees can drastically reduce safety violations, absenteeism, and medical costs.

There are three main health behavior classifications. These are preventive, illness, and sick-role behaviors.

Preventive Health Behavior - Any activity taken in order to prevent a negative health outcome. These can involve creating and promoting safety rules, employees making use of safety gear, and even simple items such as taking advantage of well-health medical visits.

Illness Behavior - This is any activity taken once an individual feels they have an illness or injury that is taken in order to assess the illness or injury. This can also be worker health monitoring where employers provide health testing to employees who believe they may have a condition such as heart failure.

Sick-Role Behavior - This is any action taken once an illness or injury has been defined with the intent of remedying the illness or injury. Doctor visits, reporting an injury, staying home instead of coming to work when contagious, a restricted diet, or any other behavior that has the purpose of improving one's medical condition.

This definition was written in the context of Occupational Health and Safety
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