Background: No study has comprehensively assessed the health behaviors of intercollegiate athletes. To determine whether they may be at increased risk for unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, we compared the lifestyle and health risk behaviors of a group of college athletes with those of their nonathletic peers.
Methods: A confidential survey questionnaire addressing preventable lifestyle behaviors was given to 109 intercollegiate athletes and 110 nonathlete controls.
Results: Athletes had a significantly (P less than .05) higher proportion of "risky" lifestyle behavior patterns compared with the nonathletes in the following areas: quantity of alcohol consumed; driving while intoxicated with alcohol or other drugs; riding with an intoxicated driver; use of seatbelts; use of helmets when riding a motorcycle or moped; use of contraception; number of sexually transmitted diseases; and number of sexual partners.
Conclusions: College athletes appear to be at higher risk for certain maladaptive lifestyle behaviors. Comprehensive lifestyle assessment and preventive health intervention deserve further study to determine whether they can facilitate the adoption of positive lifestyle behaviors in this high-risk group.