Digital Health Education for the Fully Online College Student: An Exploratory Study

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American Journal of Health Education

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Background: Just because more online degree programs are available does not mean that each university has the support services to provide health services to their online students. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether health-related services are provided to fully online students based on the American College Health Association's Healthy Campus 2020 initiative. Methods: This descriptive, exploratory study used an online survey design to query a volunteer sample of 63 college health professionals from U.S. universities about the types of health promotion strategies they used to engage the fully online student. Results: Fifteen percent charged online students a health fee, 33% offered university-sponsored health insurance, 36% provided primary care services, and 52% provided mental health services. Mental health and stress management, in the form of written material or a website, were the most common types of services offered. Discussion: Online learning platforms exist and there are captive audiences, but Health Educators are currently missing the mark in achieving Healthy Campus 2020 goals for the virtual student. Translation to Health Education Practice: Universities offering online academic programs have a unique opportunity to provide access to health services, educate and promote wellness, and become a bigger part of the health care solution.