Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


College students--Health and hygiene--Iowa--Cedar Falls; Students, Foreign--Health and hygiene--Iowa--Cedar Falls; College students--Health and hygiene; Students, Foreign--Health and hygiene; Iowa--Cedar Falls;


The primary purpose of this study was to compare the health practices of international students at the University of Northern Iowa before and after coming to the United States (US). Also included in the study was a description of differences in the selected health behaviors by gender, age, marital status, residence type, place of origin, and length of stay in the US. A random sample of 81 international students from about 60 different countries (35% male, 65% female) responded to a 50-item health behavior survey in the Fall semester of 1999.

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze the data collected. To compare health behaviors before and after coming to the US, the McNemar and marginal homogeneity tests were used in analyzing the nominal data, while the dependent groups t-test was used for the interval data. The independent groups chi-square test (for nominal data) and One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA; for interval data) were used in determining differences in health behaviors by the demographic factors.

The findings of the study included significant increases in vehicle seat belt use, condom use, tooth brushing, and breast self-examination. Significant increases were also observed in the consumption of high fat food, high sugar food, and fast food. Significant decreases were found in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and breakfast. In addition, there were significant reductions in the prevalence of dental visits, HIV/AIDS testing, and having complete physical examinations. Although a significant improvement was observed in the body mass index (BMI) there was no change in perceived weight appropriateness.

Gender differences were observed for weight-related behaviors. Age differences existed for number of sexual partners, tooth brushing, and the consumption of breakfast and high sugar food. The prevalence of condom use, caffeine consumption, and number of sexual partners was significantly different by marital status. Sexual activity and dieting showed differences by place of origin, while differences in the consumption of cereals, dental visits, breast self-examination, and Pap smear testing were observed for length of stay in the US.

It was concluded that some health behaviors of international students had changed, some for the better and others for the worse. The need for providing culturally appropriate and diverse health education services for international students was recommended.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Sue Joslyn


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Date Original


Object Description

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