Date of Conferral





Health Services


JaMuir Robinson


African Americans suffer worse health outcomes related to chronic disease than any other racial or ethnic group. The negative effects associated with poor dietary habits and a low propensity to exercise impact young adult African Americans who attend Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs) and can lead to higher mortality rates. It is important for HBCU campus health centers to address the perceptions and beliefs of students to positively impact health behaviors associated with diet and exercise. At the time of this study, there was limited research on-campus health centers and their impact on HBCU student health beliefs and behaviors. Therefore, this qualitative study was developed to help gain a better understanding of how HBCU health centers can influence student attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors related to diet and exercise. This qualitative descriptive study used semistructured focus groups made up of currently enrolled HBCU students informed by the health belief model. Focus groups were conducted with a total of 13 participants who met predetermined criteria. Data were collected using an audio recording device and analyzed using NVivo to group and code like themes and patterns. Results yielded 4 distinct themes; (a) words of family and friends matter, (b) impact of campus environment, (c) internal motivation for action, and (d) involvement from the health center. Overall peers, social media, and health center marketing had the largest influence over behaviors related to physical activity and decisions on healthy eating. The social change implication of this study is to assist campus health centers in providing more effective care by understanding student health behaviors which can improve long-term health outcomes for African Americans.