The transtheoretical model, also known as the stages of change model, assesses an individual’s readiness to adopt a new healthier behavior (Prochaska, 1983). The model was developed by psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente (1983) from the University of Rhode Island based on studies comparing the experiences of smokers who quit on their own with smokers receiving professional treatment. The model’s basic premise is that behavior change is a process, not an event.
The model focuses on the decision-making abilities of the individual, rather than the social and biological influences on behavior as other models have focused on (Prochaska, 1983). The model is comprised of several constructs. The central organizing construct of the model is the temporal dimension, or the stages of change. Additionally, other core constructs of the model include a series of independent variables known as the processes of change and a series of outcome measures, which are the decisional balance and self-efficacy.
For a detailed overview of the model, visit the University of Rhode Island’s website here.
Reference: Prochaska, J. O. & DiClemente, C. C. (1983). Stages and processes of self-change of smoking: Toward an integrative model of change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 390–395.
Stages of Change and Exercise:
The following is a summary of how the stages of change from the transtheoretical model related to an individual’s readiness to change or maintain an exercise routine:
- Pre-contemplation: Not ready to exercise nor interested in pursuing exercise.
- Contemplation: Thinking about pursuing exercise (thinking about making a behavior change).
- Preparation: Doing something related to exercise, but not meeting the ACSM guidelines for physical activity (individual intends to take action, usually within the next month).
- Action: Meeting the ACSM guidelines for exercise for less than 6 months (engaging in behavior change for less than six months. This is the stage where people are most likely to drop out or give up).
- Maintenance: Meeting the ACSM guidelines for exercise for 6 months or more (individual is working on maintaining the health behavior).