May / June 2018



AJHE: American Journal of Health Education

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  May/June 2018 (Volume 49, Issue 3)

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Table of Contents

Free Access Article
/The Use of Geocaching as a Form of Physical Activity in Youth
 – Rebecca A. Battista and Stephanie T. West

Background/Purpose: In order to promote physical activity among youth, it is critical that communities offer options beyond sports that still provide similar health benefits. Given the appeal of technology among today’s youth, the purpose of our study was to evaluate geocaching as a technology-based platform for promoting physical activity in youth.
Methods: High school youth (N = 31) participated in 2 separate activity sessions, walking and geocaching. Accelerometers were worn and questions concerning perceived exertion and enjoyment were addressed at both sessions.
Results: Although repeated measures t tests (P < .05) revealed no significant differences between activity sessions, each session yielded approximately 60 minutes of physical activity in a relatively inactive sample of youth. Additionally, the youth from the study reported that both walking and geocaching were enjoyable and relatively easy activities.
Discussion: Results from this study do not suggest that geocaching would lead to greater activity levels than walking. Rather, geocaching was found to promote activity levels similar to walking.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Given its use of technology and its application of challenge, geocaching may instead generate more interest than walking, leading to an increased interest among youth and, ultimately, an associated potential for additional physical activity.

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Research Articles

A Content Analysis of College Students’ Health Behaviors
Elizabeth G. Calamidas and Tara L. Crowell
Background: The perception of college students’ health is overall positive, yet research indicates that they engage in negative behaviors that can lead to long-term health consequences.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of a course activity as an opportunity for students to assess their own health behaviors, which could increase the likelihood of students adopting healthier behaviors.
Method: A content analysis of 100 students’ Lifestyle Analysis assignments was conducted and the results were analyzed.
Results: Results reveal that unhealthy eating, smoking, and lack of exercise are the most commonly reported negative behaviors and are reinforced by social support networks, stress, busy schedules, and habitual behaviors. Most common healthy behaviors to adopt are exercise and better eating habits and would be supported by help from friends and family, internal motivation, and goal-setting. Although past research indicates that setting specific time frames for adoption of healthier behaviors is critical, over half of the students failed to do so.
Discussion: Discussion of results includes the use of a guided assignment to identify students’ perceptions of negative behaviors, the consequences of the behaviors, and positive alternative behaviors to adopt.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Results provide valuable insight into the value of guided self-reflection in fostering positive health behavior change.

Assessing College Students’ Perceptions About Cigarette Smoking: Implications for Prevention
Ninfa C. Peña-Purcell, Rhonda N. Rahn, and Taylor Dailey Atkinson
Background: College students are susceptible to cigarette smoking initiation, and those who smoke are at risk for a lifetime addiction.
Purpose: This study examined the differences in college student smoker and nonsmoker perceptions about cigarette smoking in relation to emotional benefits, health hazards, self-confidence, and body image.
Methods:A cross-sectional study using a convenience sample was conducted. The Attitudes and Beliefs about the Consequences of Smoking (ABC) instrument assessed cigarette smoking perceptions. An independent samples t test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) assessed the differences between smoking status and the 4 ABC subscales. A multivariate ANOVA was conducted to test for the differences between smoking status and gender, as well as other demographic items.
Results: Of the 1333 participants, the average age was 21, 63% were female, 69% were white, and 11% were current smoker. The one-way ANOVA revealed a statistically significant difference between smokers and nonsmokers. Multivariate tests indicated a significant effect of smoking status and gender for the 4 subscales. The interaction of smoking status and gender had a significant effect on smoking attitudes.
Discussion: College student smokers underestimate the harm of cigarette smoking.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Tailored smoking prevention and cessation interventions targeting college students are recommended.

An Investigation of Predictors of Self-efficacy to Cope with Stress and Implications for Health Education Practice
Asrat G. Amnie
Background: We investigated predictors of self-efficacy to cope with stress in diverse populations with stressful life experiences. We also examined the association between predictors of coping self-efficacy and the different copying strategies adapted by study participants.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between sociodemographic variables and individuals’ self-efficacy to cope with stress resulting from exposure to adverse life experiences.
Methods: A total of 233 adult U.S. residents aged 18 years or above were recruited in a self-administered questionnaire survey study.
Results: Regression results showed that male gender, older age, being non-white, not being U.S. born, higher income, and adult stress exposure were significant predictors of higher self-efficacy to cope with stress. Adults who have had fewer adverse childhood experiences had higher coping self-efficacy through seeking social support from friends and family.
Discussion: Sociodemographic variables such as gender, age, race, income, and stress exposure appear to be significant predictors of self-efficacy to cope with stress.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Understanding predictors of self-efficacy to cope with stress may help Health Educators to integrate the emotional dimension of health in Health Education interventions, identify high-risk groups, tailor messaging, and prioritize resources to address the needs of individuals living with stress.

The Relationship Between Stress and Maladaptive Weight-Related Behaviors in College Students: A Review of the Literature
Lynnette Nathalie Lyzwinski, Liam Caffery, Matthew Bambling, and Sisira Edirippulige
Background: College students are at risk of the “freshman 15,” consisting of weight gain during their university studies. Stress has been linked with unhealthy dietary intake and weight in adults in the general literature. Little is known about the key patterns of dietary intake, eating behaviors, and physical activity in relation to stress in university students because this has not been previously thoroughly reviewed.
Purpose: The aims of this review were to assess these relationships along with weight gain in order to inform future targeted interventions.
Methods: A review of the literature was conducted in December 2016 for relevant studies meeting inclusion criteria.
Results: There was a positive association between stress and maladaptive weight-related behaviors, in particular, emotional eating and binge eating. There was also support for a positive association between stress and unhealthy dietary intake as well as an inverse association with healthy dietary intake in college students. Increases in these maladaptive behaviors and food intake were also observed before examinations. Evidence was weaker for physical activity because there were few studies. Evidence was also mixed for an association between stress and weight in college students.
Discussion: Interventions should be developed and tested that target stress in order to promote adequate dietary intake and healthy eating behaviors in students. Future studies could also longitudinally follow students to assess weight changes over longer periods of time.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Health Educators should raise awareness of the potential detrimental effects of stress in college on weight-related lifestyle behaviors in students. Ideally this should be done when students commence college to prevent weight gain. Offering support on campus for stress and lifestyle coaching is also desirable.

Constraints, Facilitators, and Stages of Behavioral Change in Physical Activity for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease
Bradley MacCosham, Evan Webb, Jessica Oey, and Francois Gravelle
Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a movement disorder with no cure. Symptoms related to PD can be managed through physical activity (PA). However, individuals with PD tend to be sedentary.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify the perceived constraints and facilitators to PA in each stage of behavioral change for individuals with PD.
Methods: A qualitative methodology was utilized to uncover factors influencing behavior from the participants’ perspectives. Twelve participants were recruited and took part in a semistructured interview. Thematic analysis was performed on the data.
Results: Constraints in the pre-intention stage related to psychological states. In the intention stage, interpersonal constraints resulted from participants’ lack of support from others, and environmental constraints addressed accessibility. The action and maintenance stages saw a decrease in constraints. Few facilitators were mentioned in the pre-intention stage. The intention stage saw an increase in the variety of facilitators. Environmental facilitators in the intention stage highlighted the importance of accessibility to knowledge on programs. Facilitators were also important for maintenance of their PA behavior.
Discussion: Findings suggest that multiple factors influence behavior at different stages of behavioral change in PA.
Translation to Health Education Practice: These results can be utilized to develop/implement interventions to increase PA behavior in this population.

Relationship Between Energy Drink Consumption and Daily Hassles Among College Students
Anthony McGaughey Jr, Valerie Senkowski, Laurette Taylor, Paul Branscum, and Marshall Cheney
Background: College students report high levels of stress, which may be exacerbated by the psychoactive ingredients in energy drinks. Little is understood about the relationship between daily hassles and energy drink consumption.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the associations between energy drink consumption patterns and daily hassles among college students.
Methods: College students (n = 449) completed an online survey evaluating energy drink consumption and daily hassles using the Revised University Student Hassles Scale (RUSHS).
Results: The most common reasons reported for consuming energy drinks were lack of energy (90.3%), lack of sleep (87.0%), and feeling tired (85.4%). No significant differences in daily hassles were found between energy drink consumers and nonconsumers. Energy drink consumption and daily hassles subscores varied based on demographic characteristics.
Discussion: Results of this study did not support a relationship between energy drink consumption and perceived daily hassles. Further research is needed to understand the potential association between energy drink consumption and other determinants of mental health.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Health Education interventions should rectify misperceptions that energy drinks are effective when students miss sleep, need energy, and need to study for exams.