HigherEdMorning.comStudents base health needs on social networks?

Students base health needs on social networks?

May 20, 2012 by Jacob Hawley
Posted in: Health, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, Student Life

Forget doctors – students’ beliefs are based on their inner circles. 

The people in college students’ lives – their social circle of family and friends – are the biggest influencers on students’ health decisions, says a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Specifically, students  base their beliefs about vaccinations on their social networks.

The 1,000 surveyed students were asked to identify four people with whom they discuss health matters. Those who believed their parents, spouses or friends were supportive of vaccination reported higher beliefs in vaccine safety, and were more likely to get a flu vaccine.

Students face a higher risk for infectious diseases because of their close living quarters. But their views on vaccines aren’t always positive. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, 30% of students surveyed at the time viewed the vaccine as unsafe, and only 10% actually received vaccinations.

The takeaway from the survey: If healthcare professionals – and campus health centers – want students to embrace flu shots, they should target the students’ social networks with information, in addition to the students.

How can health centers improve their outreach efforts? Share your ideas in the comments section, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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