Utah Health Values Study

Background and Findings

What is the Utah Health Values Study?

In 2016 Get Healthy Utah contracted with Envision Utah and Heart+Mind Strategies to conduct the Utah Health Values Study. This study is the first of its kind to look at values related to healthy behaviors. The values research process began with in-depth in interviewing in December 2016. These interviews explored thought patterns and associations related to health and healthy behaviors. This process was followed by laddering, which peels back the layers of importance in decision making to identify the most significant attributes, the emotional benefits of those attributes, and the driving personal values they feed. Using the results of the interviewing, an online survey was developed, distributed, and completed by over 1,000 Utahns. The survey results highlight priorities, strategies, and messaging concerns.

For decades lots of important and successful work has been done to address obesity through efforts to increase physical activity and healthy eating. However, the rate of obesity continues to rise. The Utah Health Values Study is a tool to help reframe and rethink how we approach this complex problem and help create a culture of health for all Utahns.

Values-based messaging has been proven effective across a wide variety of topics. To motivate people to change behavior, it is important to communicate both the rational reasons for the change and the emotional motivators that are tied to ones personal values. The results provide a powerful guide for communicating in ways that can produce real change.

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What we learned from the Utah Health Values Study


Utahns are in denial

They underestimate the weight problem in the state as well as their own weight situation. Many think they are in good health while also identifying themselves as very overweight (so there seems to be a disconnect between health and weight).

What this means in practice: Utahns need knowledge and information to understand the level of overweight and obesity in Utah as well as the health impacts. They also need to understand the benefits of increased physical activity and healthy eating for everyone, regardless of weight.

Utahns overwhelmingly believe individuals bear most the responsibility for their own health

What this means in practice: With good information and the right opportunities, Utahns will likely respond to interventions.

Utahns believe physical activity is the best way to prevent obesity and other long-term illnesses

What this means in practice: Investing in recreation, walkable and bikeable communities, worksite wellness programs, and physical activity in the schools may yield the greatest return.

Utahns acknowledge that lack of time, energy, and convenience are the most significant reasons why they do not eat right and are not physically active

What this means in practice: Opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating need to be convenient and accessible. Schools, workplaces, and communities all need to provide opportunities for people to make healthy choice

The Get Healthy Utah Health Values Study Results

Small Steps for Better Health Toolkit