Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Consumer Behavior in the Health Marketplace: A Symposium Proceedings, Ian M. Newman, Editor, Nebraska Center for Health Education & University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1976.


A number of behavioral scientists and health educators have been engaged for some time in attempts to explain and/or influence human behavior regarding health and illness. Behavior directed toward preserving health is called health behavior.1 Behavior subsequent to the perception of symptoms and directed toward diagnosis and treatment is called illness behavior.

It has been suggested that techniques used to market products and services can be used to help individuals fulfill their needs in both prevention and amelioration of illness as well as in the alleviation of other social problems. In this paper I shall review some principles that have emerged from studies of health and illness behavior with special attention to their implications for the notion of health consumers in a health marketplace. The marketplace concept requires a focus on suppliers as well as consumers; therefore I shall attempt to explicate some important aspects of the roles of both consumers and suppliers in the health marketplace. The roles of behavioral scientists, educators and marketing specialists in this marketplace will also be considered along with some historical lessons.