Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Associations of mindfulness, perceived stress, and health behaviors in college freshmen
by Araas, Teresa Eve, Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2008, 91; 3303258
Abstract (Summary)

U.S. college students perceive stress as the greatest health impediment to academic performance. When stressful occurrences are greater than coping resources, students experience debilitative setbacks influencing their ability to persist to degree completion. Freshmen tend to have more difficulty dealing with stress, exhibiting greater susceptibility to engaging in high risk health behaviors (e.g., physical inactivity, unhealthy nutrition and substance abuse). Mindfulness programs may be an effective behavioral strategy for transforming student coping responses, but implementation must be predicated on understanding relationships of mindfulness to perceived stress, self-efficacy, and health behaviors. This study used a cross-sectional, descriptive design to examine these associations by means of a Web-based survey in a large southwestern university. First-time transitioning freshmen students (9,275, aged 18 to 22 years) were recruited through university email, Fall semester, 2007. Participant response rate was approximately 22 percent (2,029 respondents), similar to online national health survey response rates. Questionnaires composing the survey included: (1) Demographics; (2) Health Behavior [items from National College Health Assessment, Healthstyle Self-test, Baecke Physical Activity Questionnaire, and 36-item Short-form Health Survey]; (3) Perceived Stress Scale; (4) Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; (5) Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills; and, (6) General Self-efficacy Scale. Data collection was completed in November, 2007. Self-report assessments were evaluated with Pearson Product Moment Correlation Analysis to compare relationships of mindfulness and perceived stress, general self-efficacy and health behaviors. Higher dispositional mindfulness was significantly correlated with higher self-efficacy, lower perceived stress and less high risk health behaviors. This study included investigation of similarities and differences between male and female respondents. Significant differences in age and mean body mass index existed between genders, and female students reported significantly higher perceived stress scores than their male counterparts. These findings enhance previous understanding of college freshmen perceptions and behaviors, suggesting that mindfulness programs may improve coping skills, decrease stress levels, and improve health habits for freshmen transitioning into college. Implications include the confronting of challenges and coping response efforts of students throughout their college experience, possibly mitigating dropout rates and increasing university retention. Investigation of influences of mindfulness programs on university retention rates should be a priority.

Indexing (document details)
School: Arizona State University
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behaviorial sciences, Health education
Keywords: College freshmen, Coping strategies, Dispositional mindfulness, Freshmen, Health behaviors, Mindfulness, Stress, Stress (perceived)
Publication Number: 3303258
ISBN: 978-0-549-49292-4
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