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Perceptions of Health Behaviors and Mobile Health Applications in an Academically Elite College Population to Inform a Targeted Health Promotion Program

  • Jennifer L WarnickEmail author
  • Angela Pfammatter
  • Katrina Champion
  • Tomas Galluzzi
  • Bonnie Spring
Article

Abstract

Background

College is a critical developmental time when many emerging adults engage in unhealthy behaviors (i.e., lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking) and consequently experience an increased risk for a decline in cardiovascular health. Understanding the beliefs and opinions of the target population is important to develop effective health promotion interventions. The goal of this study was to understand opinions regarding health and health-related mobile technology of college students at an academically elite Midwestern university in order to inform a mobile health promotion intervention following the integrated behavioral model framework.

Method

Eighteen college students between the ages of 18 and 22 participated in one of four focus groups, where they discussed perceptions of health behaviors, technology use, and their college environment. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis as well as consensus and conformity analysis.

Results

Students reported prioritizing academic success over health and believed in a cultural norm within the university that unhealthy behavioral practices lead to increased academic success. Other identified barriers to achieving good health were (a) low self-efficacy for engaging in healthy behaviors when presented with conflicting academic opportunities and (b) low estimation of the importance of engaging in health behaviors. Regarding mobile health applications (apps), students reported preferring apps that were visually attractive, personalized to each user, and that did not involve competing against other users.

Conclusion

These results have implications for the development of mobile health promotion interventions for college students, as they highlight facilitators and barriers to health behavior change in an academically elite student body.

Keywords

Mobile health Health promotion College Technology Health behavior change 

Notes

Funding

This work was supported by the American Heart Association Strategically Focused Research Prevention Network (no. 14SFRN20740001); J.R. Albert Foundation, Inc.; and National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR001422).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (our institution’s IRB) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical & Health PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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