An application of the theory of planned behavior - A randomized controlled food safety pilot intervention for young adults
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Copyright © 2011 American Psychological Association
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Objective: Approximately 48 million Americans are affected by foodborne illness each year. Evidence suggests that the application of health psychology theory to food safety interventions can increase behaviors that reduce the incidence of illness such as adequately keeping hands, surfaces and equipment clean. This aim of this pilot study was to be the first to explore the effectiveness of a food safety intervention based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). Methods: Young adult participants (N = 45) were randomly allocated to intervention, general control or mere measurement control conditions. Food safety observations and TPB measures were taken at baseline and at 4-week follow-up. Within and between group differences on target variables were considered and regression analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between condition, behavior and the TPB intention constructs; attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control (PBC). Results: TPB variables at baseline predicted observed food safety behaviors. At follow-up, the intervention led to significant increases in PBC (p = .024) and observed behaviors (p = .001) compared to both control conditions. Furthermore, correlations were found between observed and self-reported behaviors (p = .008). Conclusions: The pilot intervention supports the utility of the TPB as a method of improving food safety behavior. Changes in TPB cognitions appear to be best translated to behavior via behavioral intentions and PBC. Further research should be conducted to increase effectiveness of translating TPB variables to food safety behaviors. The additional finding of a correlation between self-reported and observed behavior also has implications for future research as it provides evidence toward the construct validity of self-reported behavioral measures.
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