Title

Is Community Service Participation a Prevention Strategy for Reducing Student Health Risk Behaviors?

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

The proposal relates to the strands and the conference theme in that there is potential utility of school-based community service as a means to prevent risky health behaviors and impact academic achievement in adolescents. Efforts to potentially increase academic success, productivity, and health of at-risk student is worthy of consideration and study.

Brief Program Description

Youth are engaging in risk behaviors that are resulting in consequences to their health and well-being that may be immediate or long term. Many patterns of health behavior initiated during the adolescent years are associated with adult morbidity and mortality. There is limited knowledge about the impact of volunteering on health behaviors and this presentation builds on an identified gap.

Summary

Many adolescents engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., tobacco/alcohol/drug use, unprotected sexual activity), resulting in immediate or long-term health consequences. There are many noted strategies to address youth health risk behaviors, and research indicates that participation in community service may also be a prevention strategy. Researchers find that adolescents who participate in community service are more likely to engage in “healthy” behaviors (e.g., eating nutritious foods, exercising, building positive self-esteem). Community service is defined as work performed for no monetary compensation and with the intention of benefiting others. Adolescents who have opportunities to volunteer may be less likely to engage in risky health behaviors. A secondary data analysis of the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS) was used to explore the relationship between community service participation and health behaviors among adolescents. Health outcome measures were organized into “risky health behaviors” (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, hard drugs, sexual intercourse), “health risks” (overweight, obesity) and “healthy behaviors” (physical activity guidelines met, TV/computer/videogame use guidelines met).” Regression analyses revealed that community service participation was negatively related to “health risks”, positively related to “healthy behaviors”, and unrelated to “risky health behaviors”, with academic achievement (self-reported grades) contributing to the associations. Contributing to existing research, these findings show that youth community service is associated with selected health outcomes in youth. We consider possible explanations, including positive youth development (e.g., positive relationships with peers/adults, school engagement) and motivating factors (e.g., good grades, physically active). Community service-based interventions could be a strategy for impacting youth health behavior outcomes.

Evidence

Research indicates that participation in community service may be a viable and under explored prevention strategy. Thus, it has been noted that adolescents who participate in volunteer opportunities may be less likely to engage in risky health behaviors (Kuperminc, Holditch, & Allen, 2001). More importantly, prior studies show that adolescents who participate in community service or have worked for no monetary compensation are more likely to engage in “healthy” behaviors, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising, and building positive self-esteem (Murphey, Lamonda, Carney, & Duncan, 2004).

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Ms. Williams has over 20 years of professional work experience in public health and communication with multiple populations. She is completing a PhD in Health Education/Health Promotion at The University of Alabama Birmingham. Ms. Williams has completed advanced course work in health education/health promotion and statistics. Ms. Williams earned a Masters in Health Communication from the University of Maryland - College Park. She is a long-time member of the American Public Health Association.

Dr. Talbott has worked in the field of college health for 14 years and has experience with a variety of health topics. She has years of professional experience and multiple publications resulting from her work as a health educator, evaluator, teacher, administrator and researcher. Dr. Talbott earned a PhD in Public Health from the University of South Carolina and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of Central Florida. Dr.Talbott is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist. She is a member of the American College Health Association and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

Dr. Weaver has worked in the fields of social psychology and health for 30 years and has extensive experience conducting both evaluation and research on a variety of health-related topics. Dr. Weaver is well-known for presenting and publishing about this work. Dr. Weaver earned a PhD in Mass Communication and Social Psychology from Indiana University, a Masters of Public Health from Emory University, and a Masters of Art and Bachelor of Science from the University of Georgia.

Keyword Descriptors

health behavior, service learning, volunteering, education, youth

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Is Community Service Participation a Prevention Strategy for Reducing Student Health Risk Behaviors?

Harborside Center East and West

Youth are engaging in risk behaviors that are resulting in consequences to their health and well-being that may be immediate or long term. Many patterns of health behavior initiated during the adolescent years are associated with adult morbidity and mortality. There is limited knowledge about the impact of volunteering on health behaviors and this presentation builds on an identified gap.