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Health Beliefs and Behaviors of College Women

Reiser, Lorraine M (2008) Health Beliefs and Behaviors of College Women. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Lifestyle factors are known contributors to chronic disease states, a major factor in increasing health care costs. Promoting healthier lifestyles is a current emphasis worldwide. Emerging adulthood is an important window of opportunity since lifestyle patterns are often set during this time period. Women are more likely to make family health care decisions. Understanding factors affecting lifestyle patterns in a population of emerging adult women will support the design of interventions aimed at prevention of chronic disorders in this population, which may additionally have positive effects on lifestyles in their families.Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that influence healthy lifestyle beliefs and behaviors in college women. Design: This study used the Health Belief Model as a framework and employed a mixed methods design including surveys, pedometers, and nominal group technique (NGT). Women, 18 to 25 years of age, were recruited from an urban, women's centered university in Pittsburgh, PA.Results: Analysis of 109 completed data sets demonstrated that health beliefs of perceived benefits and barriers related to eating behavior and physical activity were more predictive of healthy behaviors than beliefs of perceived susceptibility and seriousness. Perceived diet benefits accounted for over 15% of the variance seen in eating behavior. Perceived exercise barriers accounted for 35% of the variance, and exercise benefits explained 4% of the variance in physical activity. The association between health beliefs and behaviors was increased when the effect of modifying factors was considered. Socioeconomic factors including race, income, living environment, medical supervision, and knowledge moderated the relationship between health beliefs and health behaviors increasing variance explained from 15% to 30% in eating behaviors and from 39% to 49% in physical activity behaviors. NGT results suggested that mood, aesthetics, and practical issues such as cost and availability, were important factors in decision making related to healthy eating behaviors and participation in physical activity.Conclusions: Emerging adult (college) women are more motivated by higher perceived immediate benefits and lower perceived barriers to health behaviors. Framing interventions toward immediate benefit to the individual may be the most appropriate avenue in this population.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reiser, Lorraine
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchlenk, Elizabeth A.ELS100@pitt.eduELS100
Committee MemberOlshansky, Ellen F.
Committee MemberBurke, Lora E.LBU100@pitt.eduLBU100
Committee MemberDanielson, Michelle E.danielsonm@edc.pitt.eduEPIDMED
Committee MemberPatrick, Thelma E.
Date: 30 January 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 June 2007
Approval Date: 30 January 2008
Submission Date: 30 January 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Nursing > Nursing
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health Behaviors; Physical Activity; Emerging Adults; Health Beliefs
Other ID:, etd-01302008-111353
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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