Date of Conferral
Leann M. Stadtlander
Research focused on health behaviors of online graduate students is sparse. Health psychology graduate training prepares individuals to share health information with others; the information may be more credible if they present a healthy appearance. The present study tested concepts from social cognitive theory (general perceived self-efficacy) and self-determination theory (autonomy, competence, and relatedness basic needs) to determine predictive value for graduate students’ engaging in health behaviors. Participants were 121 (29 health psychology group, 92 other programs group) online graduate students who lived in the United States and attended the same online university, recruited from multiple social media sources. The study used a static comparison quasi-experimental design to examine data from an online survey. Data were analyzed using Pearson correlation, chi-square tests for independence, independent samples t-tests, ANOVA, MANOVA, and binary logistic regression. The health behaviors did not differ between the two graduate student groups. General perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, relatedness, and competency mean scores did not predict engaging in health behaviors. A significant negative correlation for the total sample was found between autonomy and body mass index. Positive social change may result from research focused on the best means to encourage health psychologists to regularly engage in health behaviors to the extent of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended levels. By internalizing and modeling good health, health psychologists will add credibility to their message and help to mitigate the connection between premature death from chronic disease due to lack of engaging in a voluntary healthy lifestyle.