Self-regulatory processes mediate the intention-behavior relation for adherence and exercise behaviors

Marijn de Bruin*, Paschal Sheeran, Gerjo Kok, Anneke Hiemstra, Jan M. Prins, Harm J. Hospers, Gerard J. P. van Breukelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Understanding the gap between people's intentions and actual health behavior is an important issue in health psychology. Our aim in this study was to investigate whether self-regulatory processes (monitoring goal progress and responding to discrepancies) mediate the intention-behavior relation in relation to HIV medication adherence (Study I) and intensive exercise behavior (Study 2). Method: In Study 1, questionnaire and electronically monitored adherence data were collected at baseline and 3 months later from patients in the control arm of an HIV-adherence intervention study. In Study 2, questionnaire data was collected at 3 time points 6-weeks apart in a cohort study of physical activity. Results: Complete data at all time points were obtained from 51 HIV-infected patients and 499 intensive exercise participants. Intentions were good predictors of behavior and explained 25 to 30% of the variance. Self-regulatory processes explained an additional 11% (Study I) and 6% (Study 2) of variance in behavior on top of intentions. Regression and bootstrap analyses revealed at least partial, and possibly full, mediation of the intention-behavior relation by self-regulatory processes. Conclusions: The present studies indicate that self-regulatory processes may explain how intentions drive behavior. Future tests, using different health behaviors and experimental designs, could firmly establish whether self-regulatory processes complement current health behavior theories and should become routine targets for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-703
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • intention behavior gap
  • self regulation
  • control theory
  • treatment adherence
  • physical exercise
  • HIV-infected patients
  • planned behavior
  • physical-activity
  • antiretroviral therapy
  • temporal stability
  • health
  • intervention
  • metaanalysis
  • moderators
  • psychology


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