Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Fetro, Joyce


A sample of 656 undergraduate students from multiple sections of an introductory nutrition course, a personal health course, and a physical fitness course at a large Midwestern University completed one of four surveys. Using matrix sampling, each participant completed a survey measuring one of four personal and social competence constructs; coping skills, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, or judgment skills; 11 health risk behaviors, and college grade point average (GPA). Descriptive statistics, correlations, and multiple regression analyses were calculated to determine relationships among these variables. Thirteen statistically significant correlations were found among personal and social competence constructs and health risk behaviors. Health risk behaviors statistically significantly correlated with one or more constructs of personal and social competence included: frequency of marijuana use, number of days cigarettes were smoked, number of days alcohol was consumed, incidences of binge drinking, incidences of driving and drinking alcohol, alcohol or drug use prior to last incidence of sexual intercourse, non-use of condoms during sexual intercourse, feelings of sadness or hopelessness for two weeks or more that resulted in ceasing some usual activities, and number of physically inactive days. Statistically significant correlations were found most often among perceived judgment skills and health risk behaviors and perceived intrapersonal skills and health risk behaviors. Variance in academic success due to perceived personal and social competence and health risk behaviors was limited. Only a small percentage of variance in self-reported, college GPA could be attributed to perceived coping skills and judgment skills, while no variance could be attributed to perceived intrapersonal skills or interpersonal personal skills. Also, few health risk behaviors accounted for any variance in self-reported, college GPA. Results suggest strategies to improve undergraduates' personal and social skills may reduce engagement in some health risk behaviors.




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