January / February 2018



AJHE: American Journal of Health Education

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  January/February 2018 (Volume 49, Issue 1)

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Table of Contents

Free Access Article
/Relationship Between Health Risk and School Attendance Among Adolescents
 – Erin E. Centeio, Jessica Duncan Cance, Jeanne M. Barcelona, and Darla M. Castelli

Background/Purpose: The prevalence of childhood obesity and school truancy are contemporary health issues, as millions of children do not attend school, when required. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between intent to be physically active, aerobic fitness, and school absences.
Methods: Data from 1907 adolescents from the United States were collected during physical education. Participants completed a valid Theory of Planned Behavior survey and the FitnessGram, with the demographic data obtained from school records. Linear regressions controlling for gender, grade, free/reduced lunch, body mass index, and intent to be physically active were calculated.
Results: Adolescents who had positive intentions to be physically active (P < .001), scored higher on the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) test (P = .006), and ran faster in the mile (P < .001) had fewer unexcused absences compared to students who had negative intentions and lower fitness.
Discussion: Adolescents with higher aerobic fitness had fewer unexcused school absences, which suggests that cardiovascular health may be a valuable contributor in decreasing adolescent health and behavior risk, specifically truancy and out-of-school suspensions.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Whole-of-school approaches that align physical activities and educational experiences can help adolescents understand the benefits of physical fitness as a prevention strategy.

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The New Role of Health Educators in Reducing Health Disparities from Research to Action Plan
Thomas W. O'Rourke
Concern about health disparities has long been an ongoing dilemma and has received increased attention both by academic study and public policy. The increased awareness and interest in health disparities is clearly reflected in the evolution of the federal government publication Healthy People. Addressing health disparities was not included as one of the overarching goals in the first 1979 Surgeon General’s Report, Healthy People: The Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.Nor was it an overarching goal in Healthy People 1990: Promoting Health/Preventing Disease: Objectives for the Nation. However, since then, it has been explicitly included in subsequent publications of Healthy People and given increased prominence as an overarching goal.
Making Use of the Facts: A Critical Literacy Approach to Spark Personal Health Action in College Students
Rebecca Pearson
Much academic conversation surrounds locating and formalizing critical thinking in curricula. How do we build critical thinking skills? What should a student be able to do? Should general education programs include critical thinking requirements? Just what does critical thinking mean, and which definition is right for our university?
Looking at Compassion Fatigue Differently: Application to Family Caregivers
Susan H. Lynch
Family caregivers provide a significant role in the provision of health care for their family members. In 2015, approximately 43.5 million people in the United States served as informal caregivers. As a result, family caregivers often experience stress due to the large volume of care provided and the unpredicted duration and intensity of caregiving duties. This resultant and often cumulative stress can result in the negative outcomes.

Research Articles

Understanding and Promoting Stress Management Practices Among College Students Through an Integrated Health Behavior Model
Steven L. Bistricky
Background: College students are susceptible to undermanaged stress and its detrimental effects, and though they could use evidence-based stress reduction techniques (SRTs) to remedy this, many do not. Unfortunately, little is known about what might encourage greater use.
Purpose: This study examined to what extent a framework integrating cognitive, social, behavioral, and experiential factors related to influential health behavior models could account for increased intention to use SRTs (intention) and willingness to recommend SRTs (promoter willingness).
Methods: College students (n = 233) completed a survey assessing health beliefs, past and intended future use of SRTs, willingness to recommend SRTs, and potential changes in intention or promoter willingness following brief Health Education messages.
Results: Health Belief Model components, theory of planned behavior descriptive norms, and prior SRT use predicted significant variability in intention and promoter willingness (experienced effectiveness of particular SRTs also predicted intention), and Health Education messages increased both outcomes.
Discussion: Informational and experiential exposure to different SRTs may promote greater SRT use and dissemination.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Institutions can assess student stress management needs and increase student SRT use and dissemination through existing modalities that provide students information, peer discussion opportunities, and reinforcing effects of SRT practice.

The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Binge Drinking Among College Students: A Qualitative Investigation
Mary K. Dinger
Background: Among college students, an incongruous association between physical activity (PA) and binge drinking (BD) has been reported.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to qualitatively investigate the relationship between PA and BD among college students.
Methods:A trained facilitator asked open-ended questions, based on the social–ecological model, during sex-specific focus groups to inquire about PA and BD. Participants were physically active students (18–24 years, non-varsity athletes),who reported at least one binge drinking episode in the past 30 days. Transcripts were analyzed by 3 researchers to determine emergent themes.
Results: Several intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, and community factors were identified. The most frequently occurring theme among females (n = 25) was “calorie conscious.” “Damage control: healthy/unhealthy” was the most frequent theme/subtheme among males (n = 33).
Discussion: The findings suggest multiple social–ecological levels that influence the complex relationship between PA and BD in college students. Although additional research is warranted, results of this study suggest that community-level factors greatly influence several intrapersonal and interpersonal level factors described by participants.
Translation to Health Education Practice: It is imperative that Health Education professionals consider all social–ecological levels of influence when developing interventions and policies to promote PA and reduce BD among college students.

Evaluation of a Behavioral Self-Care Intervention for Public Health Students
Marney A. White
Background: Postgraduate education is recognized as a time of intense stress. Rates of anxiety and depression are elevated among graduate students, and longitudinal studies have documented increases in clinical symptoms over the course of training.
Purpose: The current study was to evaluate whether an academically sponsored self-care intervention would increase engagement in health promotion activities. The primary goal was to determine whether self-care behaviors completed in the midst of a challenging academic program would prevent the worsening of student mental health.
Methods: The self-care intervention included behavior change projects designed to increase health-promoting behaviors within 4 domains (nutrition, physical activity, mental health, social support). Students received incentives in the way of bonus points for maintaining health behaviors for the duration of the 12-week semester.
Results: Results revealed significant increases in health-promoting behaviors. Importantly, mental health symptoms did not worsen over the course of the semester.
Discussion: The study provides preliminary support for the utility of a brief self-care intervention for students in the health sciences.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Future studies should examine the applicability of this intervention to students in other fields of study and through online education formats.