Health education should be based on a thorough analysis of the psychosocial determinants of the target behavior. Different aspects of attitudes, social influence, and self-efficacy determine intention and behavior. It is further crucial to realize that the target population usually has different reasons for behavior than the reasons that motivate health educators to focus on this behavior. The process of behavior change can be described as going through stages. Precontemplators become contemplators who then prepare for action, and after action may become maintainers or relapsers. People in different stages of change need different health education messages. Research shows that tailored preventive messages are more effective than general preventive messages.
Improving self-efficacy is often a crucial objective in health education at the individual level. Self-efficacy is partly determined by attributions people make about successes and failures, and health education interventions are designed to teach people to make unstable, controllable attributions that improve success expectancies and stimulate preventive behavior. Relapse-prevention and reattribution strategies are specifically designed to teach people the necessary skills to cope with high-risk situations and promote maintenance of behavior change. Potentially effective health education interventions will not be effective if the implementation is not adequately organized. From the start, interventions should be developed in a linkage system between the source system, the target population, and health educators.