Testing compensatory health beliefs in a UK population

Daphne Kaklamanou*, Christopher J. Armitage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Compensatory health beliefs, beliefs that healthy behaviours can compensate or neutralise unhealthy behaviours, have been proposed as one way of understanding why people engage in health-risk behaviours (Knäuper, B., Rabiau, M., Cohen, O., & Patriciu, N. (2004). Compensatory health beliefs scale development and psychometric properties. Psychology and Health, 19, 607-624). However, measuring compensatory health beliefs has proved a challenge, with several recent studies being unable to replicate the psychometric properties of Knäuper et al.'s (2004) scales. The aims of this study were to: (1) test the factor structure of the compensatory health beliefs scale in the UK, (2) examine the predictive validity of the scale by testing the relationships between compensatory health beliefs and health behaviours over a six-month time interval and (3) assess the 6-month test-retest reliability of the scale. A total of 393 participants completed measures of compensatory health beliefs and health behaviours at two time points separated by six months. The findings were potentially problematic for research into compensatory health beliefs: the factor structure was not confirmed, there was little evidence of predictive validity, and test-retest reliability was poor. Further research is required to understand the operation of compensatory health beliefs and to develop the measurement of compensatory health beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1074
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • compensatory health beliefs
  • exercise
  • fruit and vegetable intake
  • health behaviours
  • smoking


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