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Factors Influencing the Health Behaviors of International Students at a University


Grace K Lartey1, Sandeep Mishra1, Divine E Odonwodo2, Chitalu Chitalu1, Andrew Chafatelli3

1Department of Public Health, Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd # 11082, Bowling Green, KY 42101

2Unity Health System, 1555 Long Pond Road, Rochester, NY 14626

33716 Lakeridge Pass, Nashville, TN 37214


 *For Correspondence:  Tel: 1-270-745-3941  Fax: 1-270-745-4437  E-mail:

Received: 08-Apr-09                         Revised: 30-Apr-09                            Accepted: 01-May-09

International Journal of Health Research, June 2009; 2(2): 131-138 (e224p27-34)


Original Research Article




Purpose: Each year, college campuses in America welcome an increasing and diverse population of international students. While the health status of these students is as diverse as the countries they come from, the shared experience of coming from different cultures, different backgrounds and different systems could lead to differences in health behavior. This study aimed to identify key patterns in nutrition, exercise and use of health care services and make recommendations for health promotion interventions.

Methods: Online questionnaires were distributed to all international students enrolled in classes for the Spring 2007.

Results: The majority of international students believed healthy behaviors were important: good nutrition habits (91%); regular exercise (74%); and use of health care services (60%). Forty-four percent of the students reported they never exercise and 56% reported not to have used any health care services within the past year.

Conclusion: Although international students of Western Kentucky University, USA believe in healthy behaviours, majority often do not use the health care services. University wellness programs should be designed to identify target areas for health promotion interventions among international students. In addition, orientation programs provided to these students should be comprehensive and must include perceived academic, health, social and cultural issues and how to overcome them.


Keywords: Exercise; International students; Health care services; Health promotion; Nutrition.

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