Intention to Choose Healthy Interior Design Materials of U.S. Single-family Homeowners: An Application of the Health Belief Model

Presented by: Dr. Hyun Joo Kwon, Zoohee Choi

Residential interior design and residents’ health are correlated. Poor indoor air quality in a housing unit causes respiratory illness, allergies and fatigue (Balestra & Sultan, 2013). Conversely, healthy housing materials such as low VOCs varnishes and lead free paint contributes to residents’ health and quality of life (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2006). There has been increasing attention to the effects of indoor air quality on residents’ health. Federal regulations (e.g., Safe Chemical Act of 2010) enforce codes to use safe materials and several voluntary programs have been initiated (e.g., Green Guard and Green label). In addition, increasing numbers of residents choose healthy materials and the green housing market has doubled (McGraw Hill Construction, 2014). However, obstacles to the use of healthy housing material still exist because of a lack of consumer awareness and knowledge of harmful materials and their impact on health. In order to promote the use of healthy materials in residential interior design, it is important to understand housing consumers’ choice of those materials. The Health Belief Model (HBM) has been widely used to explain how someone engages in a health-related behavior (Janz & Becker, 1984). The purpose of this study is to identify significant associations between sociodemographic characteristics (age, education, income, and health condition), and health concern and the HBM constructs (knowledge, perceived benefits, barriers, self-efficacy, threats on health and intention to choose healthy housing materials). It also tests significant relationships among health concerns; knowledge, perceived benefits, barriers, self-efficacy and threats on health; and intention to choose healthy housing materials as a dependent variable based on the HBM. The target population was single-family homeowners aged 21 or over in the United States (N = 412). An online survey was conducted in January 2015 using a self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, correlation, and path model analysis were conducted using SPSS and AMOS. Participants were an average of 48.62 years old (SD=14.87) on average and almost half of the participants had at least a bachelor’s degree. For annual income, 40.3% earned less than $3,999, 29.4% earned $4,000 to $6,999, 12.9% earned $7,000 to $9,999 and 17.5% earned more than $10,000. Participants indicated their health as fairly sensitive to harmful building materials. For health concern, the participants rated an average of 5.32 (SD=1.08) out of 7. For HBM constructs, the participants reported below 5.0 on average out of 7 for knowledge, perceived barrier and threats on health. Other HBM constructs were higher than 5.0. Bivariate analysis results show that age was significantly negatively associated with knowledge, self-efficacy and intention to choose healthy housing materials. Health condition was significantly related with health concern and HBM constructs. A path model revealed that health concern was significantly positively related to knowledge, perceived benefits, self-efficacy and threats on health. The strongest relationship was found between health concern and perceived benefit. There were significantly positive relationships between knowledge, perceived benefits, self-efficacy and threats on health, and intention to choose healthy housing materials. Among them, perceived benefit was the strongest indicator. Older adults were found to lack knowledge and to be less likely to intend to choose healthy housing materials. Since those who perceive benefits of healthy housing materials are more likely to intend to choose them, it is important to promote and educate people who lack knowledge of the benefits of healthy housing materials. Interior designers should inform their clients of healthy housing materials. This study has important implications for residents, interior designers and researchers.


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