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Wellness 101: health education for the university student

S. Joan Wharf Higgins (School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)
Lara L. Lauzon (School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)
Ann C. Yew (School of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Christopher D. Bratseth (School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)
Nicole McLeod (Faculty of Recreation and Physical Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 22 June 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe two phases of a mixed‐method study: in phase I, the wellness practices of students at a Canadian university are reported. These data informed the re‐development of a first‐year health education course. Subsequent to its revision, phase II of the study assessed the impact of the course on students' wellness practices and learnings.

Design/methodology/approach

In phase I, 855 students completed a survey rating ten wellness practices relating to themselves. Survey results were explored further in focus groups with 60 students. In phase II, a pre‐ and post‐design assessed the impact of the health education curriculum. Wellness practices were surveyed, at the beginning and end of term, and content analysis was conducted on students' assignments.

Findings

In phase I, the mean overall wellness score was 779.7 out of 1,000 or “good”. Students scored highest in sexuality and safety, and lowest in physical activity and nutrition. Qualitative analyses revealed four primary themes important to students' wellness: being or holistic health; belonging or feeling connected to others and the campus; becoming or studying to achieve a professional or scholarly degree; and balance – or the search for stability. In phase II, significant changes were found for seven wellness scores when comparing the beginning and end of semester. Analysis of course assignments found that students left the course with enhanced affect and knowledge levels.

Originality/value

The results support the argument that a health education curriculum, responsive to students' identified needs, and in conjunction with a healthy campus environment, promises to enhance student wellness.

Keywords

Citation

Wharf Higgins, S.J., Lauzon, L.L., Yew, A.C., Bratseth, C.D. and McLeod, N. (2010), "Wellness 101: health education for the university student", Health Education, Vol. 110 No. 4, pp. 309-327. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654281011052655

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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