Theories of Compliance, and Turning Necessities Into Preferences: Application to Adolescent Health Action
Howard Leventhal Rutgers -- The State University of New Jersey
The first part of this chapter presents a synopsis of the history of compliance theory and reviews key findings in several of the areas in which compliance research has flourished. My objective in conducting this review is to identify successes and failures of prior and current research programs and to highlight the theoretical additions and instrumental actions already taken to overcome the failures. As the great majority of studies have been conducted with adults, the data does not focus on special features of compliance for adolescents, nor do the data provide one with a developmental view of compliance problems. The review does, however, set the stage for Part two in which I present a self- regulation view of treatment adherence. Self-regulation models represent a significant step away from the "normative," authoritarian framework implicit in the definition of compliance and provide an effective framework both for the analysis of compliance among adolescents and for a life-span perspective on compliance/adherence problems. Within the self-regulatory framework I address the specific issue of converting necessities, acts that one must do, into preferences, or acts that one wishes or has an urge to do. Finally, I close with a brief discussion regarding the application of these ideas to health actions in adolescents and their implications for a life-span perspective on compliance/adherence issues.
Compliance is a word that appears to have defined a complete theory of behavior and generated a substantial body of empirical research. Psychological theory