, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 147-148
Date: 25 Jul 2012

Comparing Theories of Health Behavior Using Data from Longitudinal Studies: a Comment on Gerend and Shepherd

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The publication of Gerend and Shepherd's paper [1] on HPV vaccine initiation among young adult women marks a rare event in the health behavior theory literature. Despite the eloquent “call to arms” for comparative theory testing by Noar and Zimmerman [2] and Weinstein and Rothman [3] over 7 years ago, this most recent effort brings the number of longitudinal studies that test health behavior theories against one another to a grand total of just 11. How is it possible that such a worthy project has been so neglected? Comparative testing of whole theories is both conceptually and procedurally complex, and many researchers may be loath to subject themselves to the intensive data collection and intricate analyses that Gerend and Shepherd have so admirably performed. We would like to suggest an additional strategy for testing the underlying logic of health behavior theories.

Our main concern is the difference between what Darwin in 1857 called the lumpers and the splitters [4, 5]. One can co ...