269375 Behavioral impact of a required college health course

Monday, October 29, 2012

Phyllis A. Bryden, DrPH, MSPH, CPH, RN , Health Promotion & Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Molly McKinney, MA, ABD , Health Promotion and Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Michelyn W. Bhandari, DrPH, MPH, CPH , Department of Health Promotion and Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Laurie J. Larkin, MS, PhD , Health Promotion and Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Myron Douglas, BS , Health Promotion and Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Background: Although the health of American college students is a top priority on many campuses, some students still do not exercise, use tobacco regularly, eat non-nutritious meals, and binge on alcohol. Additionally, unintentional injuries are the number one cause of death for this population group. In order to address these and other health issues, many colleges require a health education course for all students. The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of a semester-long health education course on different health behaviors for college students. Methods: This study analyzed data from pretest/posttest student self-assessments completed during two different semesters within general education health classes at a regional university. Summary scores were calculated from questions for the following topics: Tobacco, Alcohol/other drugs, Nutrition, Exercise/Fitness, Emotional Health, Safety, and Disease Prevention. Higher scores indicated more optimal health behaviors. T-tests were used to compare mean differences between pre and post scores. Results: A total of 1254 pre and post assessments were analyzed (pre: n=675; post: n=579). The following mean differences (post pre) in scores were noted: tobacco (-0.9, p<.001), alcohol/other drugs (0.07, p=.60), nutrition (0.97, p<.001), exercise/fitness (0.39, p<0.05), emotional health, (0.40, p<.001), safety (0.34, p<.001), disease prevention (1.00, p<.001), and overall score (2.15, p<.001). Conclusions: These findings indicate the effectiveness of a semester-long required wellness course on the health behaviors of college students. Results also imply a greater need for more focused and intensive intervention strategies to lower tobacco use and alcohol abuse in this population.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1.Discuss how the effect of a college health course can be measured. 2.Describe the effectiveness of a college health course on changing health behaviors

Keywords: College Students, Public Health Education and Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: as coordinator of a general education health course at a regional university I have evaluated the health course goals for over five years. I have coordinated the collection of the data being presented as well as participating in the analysis. I have lead efforts to improve health instruction to college students for the last six years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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