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Promoting Health Behavior Change Using Appreciative Inquiry: Moving From Deficit Models to Affirmation Models of Care

Moore, Shirley M. PhD, RN; Charvat, Jacqueline MS


This article describes a new theoretical approach to health promotion and behavior change that may be especially suited to underserved women. Appreciative inquiry (AI), an organizational development process that focuses on the positive and creative as a force for an improved future, is described and adapted for use as an intervention to achieve health behavior change at the individual level. Guiding principles for its use with clients are provided, and an example of its application is illustrated in a hypothetical case study of an African American woman of low-socioeconomic resources who is attempting to increase lifestyle exercise following a cardiac event. AI is contrasted with the more traditional problem-solving approaches to the provision of care. The advantages, challenges, and issues associated with the use of AI as a health behavior change strategy are discussed.

Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Corresponding author: Shirley M. Moore, PhD, RN, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106 (e-mail:

The authors thank the members of the 2005 Institute for Healthcare Improvement Education Leadership Meeting and the 2006 Center for Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Research (CHPR) in Underserved Populations Collaboratory for their helpful comments in the development of the ideas presented in the manuscript.

Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved