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June 2005

When Perception Is Reality

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(6):592-593. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.6.592

Medical sociologists have long understood that perception plays a key role in how individuals behave in managing their health. Some 40 years ago, Rosenstock articulated the components of what later became known as the Health Belief Model. He hypothesized that an individual’s decision to adopt a preventive health action against a certain illness would reflect, in part, the individual’s perceived susceptibility to that illness, the perceived severity of that illness if acquired, and the individual’s perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to a given course of preventive action.1 Countless studies have confirmed the utility of considering perceptions in studying health-related behaviors.