Basic concepts in the taxonomy of health-related behaviors, habits and lifestyle

Luis Salvador-Carulla, Federico Alonso, Rafael Gomez, Carolyn O. Walsh, José Almenara, Mencía Ruiz, María José Abellán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Health-related Habits (HrH) are a major priority in healthcare. However there is little agreement on whether exercise, diet, smoking or dental hygiene are better described as lifestyles, habits or behaviors, and on what is their hierarchical relationship. This research is aimed at representing the basic concepts which are assumed to constitute the conceptual framework enabling us to interpret and organize the field of HrH. Methods: A group of 29 experts with different backgrounds agreed on the definition and hierarchy of HrH following an iterative process which involved framing analysis and nominal group techniques. Results: Formal definitions of health-related behavior, habit, life-style and life-style profile were produced. In addition a series of basic descriptors were identified: health reserve, capital, risk and load. Six main categories of HrH were chosen based on relevance to longevity: diet/exercise, vitality/stress, sleep, cognition, substance use and other risk. Attributes of HrH are clinical meaningfulness, quantifiability, temporal stability, associated morbidity, and unitarity (non-redundancy). Two qualifiers (polarity and stages of change) have also been described. Conclusions: The concepts represented here lay the groundwork for the development of clinical and policy tools related to HrH and lifestyle. An adaptation of this system to define targets of health interventions and to develop the classification of person factors in ICF may be needed in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1963-1976
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


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