Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Kathy Shadle James, DNSc, Chairperson; Cynthia D. Connelly, PhD; Jane M. Georges, PhD


health risk behaviors, nursing, university students, wellness, young adults


The purpose of this study was to examine wellness and health risk behaviors of young adults at a university in the southwest. Nutrition, physical activity, alcohol use, and safe sexual practices are high priority health concerns on college campuses. Health promotion is integral to nursing. Early identification of risky health behaviors allows for the design of campus health interventions. Health behaviors continue to be formed during college and interventions may have a lasting impact on health promotion and disease prevention. This study added to the research on demographic factors impacting wellness. A correlation between BMI and wellness level was also explored. Hettler's (1979) Six Dimension of Wellness Model guided this inquiry. A descriptive cross-sectional design was used to explore the research variables. A sample of 106 young adults participated in the study. Descriptive analyses were used to explore wellness and health risk behaviors. Multivariate analysis was used to examine the impact of demographic factors on wellness level. The correlation between wellness level and BMI was also examined. The study population had a mean age of 20.18 years. Overall, a high level of wellness was found. Women scored higher on wellness than males and gender based differences accounted for 14.6% of the variance in wellness scores. Upper level students scored higher on wellness than lower level students but this difference was not statistically significant. The average BMI of the sample was normal (23.3), but 18.9% of the sample was categorized as overweight or obese. There was no significant correlational relationship between wellness level and BMI. High percentages of young adults did not consume adequate fruits/vegetables or grains. The percentage of tobacco use was low and the reported alcohol use was moderate. A third of the sample reported sexual activity with 25% reporting inconsistent use of protection during sexual intercourse. The findings of this study are useful for planning campus health education. The results may be used to target students for interventions that improve wellness. Specifically, the results of this study will be useful in planning education on appropriate dietary intake, weight management, and safe sexual practices.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons