Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Kinesiology

Major Professor

Eugene C. Fitzhugh

Committee Members

Dixie L. Thompson, Rob Hardin

Abstract

The college years are an important time for young adults to learn and implement healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as physical activity (PA). In order to develop these habits, college students should be made aware of public health recommendations, such as the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG). However, no studies have examined the level of awareness of these guidelines among college students. PURPOSE: To determine the level of awareness of the 2008 PAG in college students and study the effectiveness of a PA health communication campaign (HCC) designed to increase awareness. METHODS: This study utilized a quasi-experimental, two-group design. Residents living in four residence halls (N = 2136), two control and two experimental, were eligible to participate. At baseline (August 2011), 407 residents responded to an online questionnaire with 144 completing a follow-up survey. A PAG awareness score was created ranging from 0 to 6 based upon correct survey responses. Between survey administrations, the experimental residence halls were exposed to an eight-week PA HCC consisting of posters, flyers and informational e-mails. Repeated Measures ANOVA was used to analyze the change in awareness score from pre- to post-intervention in both groups. RESULTS: The average awareness score for the 407 respondents completing the baseline survey was 2.5. Among the 144 participants that completed both surveys, the overall awareness score was 2.46 (SD 1.23) with no differences by demographics. Following the campaign, both the control and experimental groups showed increases in awareness scores of 0.2 and 0.45, however the differences between groups were not significant (p = 0.348). CONCLUSION: Overall awareness of the guidelines was low in this population, supporting the need for education of the PAG. In order to be effective, a HCC may be appropriate as part of a larger PA health promotion intervention.

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