A comparison of the health practices of nursing and liberal arts majors at Salisbury State College


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The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the health practices of Nursing students and Liberal Arts students in six areas, smoking, alcohol use, exercise, weight control, seat-belt use, and hours of sleep per night. The study population consisted of a convenience sample of 82 Salisbury State students, 55 of whom were Nursing majors and 27 of whom were History, English, and Philosophy majors. A descriptive research design was used for this investigation. Demographic data and data on health practices were collected using the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. An additional page was added to the HRA questionnaire by the researcher ascertaining academic major, grade point average (GPA), year in school, and place of residence. Subjects who were not junior and senior female students, under twenty five, in any of the above majors were excluded from the study sample. Demographic analysis showed that the study samples were similar with respect to race, residence, and GPA. Chi-square analysis indicated that Nursing students in this sample abstained significantly more often from smoking (X²= 14.44, df=1, p=0.0007). Although there was no statistically significant difference in alcohol use, Chi-square analysis revealed that there was a tendency toward less use of alcohol on the part of the Nursing students compared to the Liberal Arts students (X²=3.6638, df=1, p=0.0556). There were no statistically significant differences found between the two groups in exercise habits, weight control, seat-belt use, or nighttime hours of sleep. Because the results of the study are not well-supported in the literature, further investigation is needed to ascertain health practices of college students in general and of nursing students in particular.