Co-Occurring Health Risk Behaviors and Their Association with Self-Rated Health among Female College Students

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Background: Existing research focuses on the co-occurrence of lifestyle-related health risk behaviors among college students. Although students’ self-reported health risk behaviors have been examined, students’ self-rated health and its association with these co-occurring health risk behaviors have been overlooked. Purpose: The goals of the current study were to identify levels of co-occurrence of health risk behaviors among female college students and to test the prediction that students with multiple co-occurring health risk behaviors would report poorer self-rated health. Methods: Data from an online survey that assessed the five selected health risk behaviors and self-rated health of undergraduate students at a liberal arts university in the northeast of the USA were analyzed. Results: High prevalence rates were found on all five risk behaviors and the majority of participants reported engaging in two or more co-occurring health behaviors. The inverse association between perceived health and level of co-occurrence of health risk behaviors was consistent with what was predicted. Discussion: Students’ perceived health should be considered in the examination of health risk behaviors among college students. Translation to Health Education Practice: These findings can inform efforts to provide Health Education and prevention programming on college campuses that incorporates multiple health behaviors.


Laila McGeorge graduated from Sacred Heart University in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy.