How Self-Efficacy Can Improve Your Health

How Self-Efficacy Can Improve Your Health

Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash

  Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 8/17/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.

Do you have high self-efficacy? How you go about attaining your goals should give you the answer.

Do you drag your feet and let your fears keep you tied to your comfort zone? Or do you confidently move forward with each step, knowing that you will figure things out as you go?

If you have a strong inner critic that questions everything you do, your self-efficacy is probably low. On the other hand, if your inner voice is an ally to you and keeps you hopeful, you have high self-efficacy.

What Exactly Is Self-Efficacy?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines self-efficacy as one’s belief in their capacity to execute an action and attain a certain performance level. The important thing to highlight here is that self-efficacy is your belief in your capabilities, regardless of how others view your talents.

Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Esteem

Although self-esteem and self-efficacy are related, they are not quite the same. Self-esteem is the level of self-respect and self-worth you have, whereas self-efficacy is a belief in your abilities. High self-efficacy can lead to high self-esteem and vice versa.

Examples of Self-Efficacy

A few examples of self-efficacy are given below:

  • Feeling like you can pass an exam with what you know and what you have studied

  • Believing that you can overcome an illness and get back to your normal life

  • Taking a risk and quitting a job that you’re not happy with because you believe that you can make your side hustle work

  • Continuing to write a book and believing that you will eventually find an agent and a publisher

  • Applying for a job even if you feel like you don’t satisfy all the requirements because you know that you can learn on the job

How Self-Efficacy Can Help You

1. Overall Health

When you have high self-efficacy, you tend to take positive action for your well-being like exercise or nutrition. In addition, studies on people with chronic conditions show that “self-efficacy can be used to develop and implement programs for empowering chronically ill patients.”

2. Surgery Outcomes

According to a study of bariatric surgery patients in Sweden, patients with high self-efficacy and health literacy were evaluated as having “sufficient ability to handle recovery after surgery.” This was after taking into account all known risks for complications post-surgery.

3. Mental Health

As per a research paper on male drug users, “increased levels of general self-efficacy, problem-oriented coping strategy and internal locus of control (the belief that one is responsible for one’s own success) will improve mental health.” This may be because individuals high on self-efficacy feel more empowered in handling life’s stressors.

4. Longevity

When you have high self-efficacy, you tend to have a purpose in your life because you believe that you have an important mission to fulfill on earth. This can, in turn, improve your lifespan because you’re motivated to live longer. Research also confirms that there is a strong relationship between high self-efficacy and improved life expectancy.

5. Life Satisfaction

Research has found a connection between self-efficacy and quality of life for multi-morbid primary care patients. Patients with lower self-efficacy had lower quality of life scores, indicating low satisfaction with life. The study also highlighted how self-efficacy levels could help identify patients who require more medical support.


If you have extremely low self-efficacy, this may be related to childhood trauma or other traumatic events. Please work with a mental health professional to identify underlying causes, so you can build your self-belief and gain all of its benefits.