Factator: Enabling college students to engage in health literacy
Sami Brice, Megha Mittal, Khanh Tran, Lindley (King) Turnbull, Meixuan Wu
In this capstone project, we aim to identify ways in which the health literacy of young adults in college can be improved with a focus on three key areas: nutrition, health system resources, and physical activity. Most young adults in college living away from home are responsible for making their own health decisions for the first time without their parents’ supervision. Lack of knowledge and misconceptions towards health, personal preferences, and societal trends cause many of these students to rely on user-generated information sources instead of credible and verified sources. This leads to poor health decisions in the short term and poor health outcomes in the long term. The objective of this project is to guide college students living away from home to credible information sources, enabling them to make better health decisions.

To analyze and address this problem, primary and secondary research was conducted. For secondary data sources, case studies about nutrition, health system resources, and physical activity were examined, and root causes and similarities were identified. For primary data sources, the research team studied college health websites and made phone calls to their health services.

The data led the team to three key takeaways: First, young adults prefer less time-consuming food options and at the same time have high intentions to eat healthily, but conflicting information deters them from doing so. Second, the health system is not meeting the needs of young adults resulting in fewer visits to the doctor and more reliance on social media. Third, when making decisions concerning their own health & well-being, young adults engage with friends rather than their parents or professionals. Overall, this project examined how college students living away from home access, obtain, and digest health information and identify an intervention point where they can be led to credible health information and sources, to successfully improve their health literacy and health status.
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By Sami Brice, Megha Mittal, Khanh Tran, Lindley (King) Turnbull, Meixuan Wu