Date of Award

Fall 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Priority health risk behaviors including binge drinking, unsafe driving, and unprotected sex are often times established in adolescence, extend into college life, are interrelated, and negatively impact wellbeing. A paucity of research exists associating behaviors with perceptions of wellness. Without baseline knowledge of how college students' life-style choices, behaviors, and adjustment influences their sense of wellness, professionals do not have standards to evaluate the effectiveness of wellness-oriented interventions.

The purpose of this study was to explicate global wellbeing in 18-24 year old college students. Explaining global wellbeing was based on the influence of specific health risk behaviors and adjustment to college.

Adam's Multiple Dimensions of Perceived Wellness guided this descriptive, explanatory study. Subjects (N = 281) were recruited from randomly selected entry-level courses from a medium-sized public university. A three-part customized survey was administered. Descriptive analysis included summary tables, charts, percentages, and measures of central tendencies. Inferential analysis included multiple regression and ANOVAs.

Global wellbeing correlated with students' mental health risk ( r = -.402; p ≤ .01), academic performance ( r = -.267; p ≤ .01), and adjustment to college (r = .165; p ≤ .01). Stepwise regression explained 24.3% of variance in global wellbeing by loading the single indexed variable of mental health risk (R2 = .243; p < .001; ANOVA: F (1, 249) = 72.139; p < .001; Beta = -.474; t (249) = -8.493; p < .001). Mental health risk also correlated with students' health risk behaviors (r = .322; p ≤ .01), and academic performance (r = .620; p ≤ .01). The only other variable that correlated with students' health risk behaviors was academic performance (r = .433; p ≤ .01).

Mental health needs are integrally connected with students' health risk behaviors, academic performance, and global wellbeing. Wellbeing is a holistic perceptual construct. Focusing wellness efforts on areas of choice can improve wellness in all dimensions, as well as globally. Assessing global wellbeing and conducting health risk assessments as part of college wellness programs can guide the appropriate level of intervention by identifying at-risk students. These practices could provide the foundation for evidence-based health promotion and wellness programs.

Included in

Psychology Commons