Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Systematic Reviews





PubMed ID





School of Arts and Humanities / Kurongkurl Katitjin




Adams, C., Gringart, E., & Strobel, N. (2022). Explaining adults’ mental health help-seeking through the lens of the theory of planned behavior: A scoping review. Systematic reviews, 11, 1-16.


Background: Despite evidence-based efficacy, mental health services are underutilized due to low rates of help-seeking, leaving unmet mental health needs a global concern. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) has been applied to understand the help-seeking process and in the development of behavior change interventions. The aim of this scoping review was to map the literature on the TPB as applied to mental health help-seeking in adults aged > 18 years. Methods: This scoping review was conducted based on the methodology presented by Arksey and O’Malley (2005). Six databases (CINAHL, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ProQuest Health and Medicine, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Web of Science) and two grey literature sources (OpenGrey, Google Scholar) were systematically searched in February 2018 and updated in March 2020. Studies that explicitly discussed the TPB in the context of mental health help-seeking were initially selected; only studies that explored formal help-seeking for mental health problems and were published in English were retained. Data were extracted using Microsoft Excel. Results: Initially, 8898 records were identified. Of these, 49 met the selection criteria and were included: 32 were journal articles and 17 were theses. Forty-three papers reported on non-intervention studies and seven articles reported on TPB-based interventions. Most studies (n = 39) identified predictors of help-seeking intentions. Attitudes and perceived behavioral control were significant predictors of intentions in 35 and 34 studies, respectively. Subjective norms were a significant predictor of intentions in 23 studies. Few studies aimed to predict help-seeking behavior (n = 8). Intentions and perceived behavioral control were significant predictors of behavior in seven and six studies, respectively. Only six TPB-based interventions were identified, all used digital technology to influence help-seeking, with mixed results. Conclusions: The present scoping review identified a considerable evidence base on the TPB for predicting mental health help-seeking intentions. Attitudes and perceived behavioral control were frequently found to be significant predictors of help-seeking intentions. Knowledge on the TPB for predicting mental health help-seeking behavior, and on TPB-based interventions, is limited. Thus, the role of the TPB in developing help-seeking interventions remains unclear. Recommendations are presented to address such research gaps and inform policy and practice.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.