Purpose: This study examined the effects of brief image-based interventions, including a multiple behavior health contract, a one-on-one tailored consultation, and a combined consultation plus contract intervention, for impacting multiple health behaviors of students in a university health clinic.
Methods: A total of 155 college students attending a major southern university were recruited to participate in a study evaluating a health promotion program titled Project Fitness during the fall 2005 and spring 2006. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three treatments as they presented at the clinic: 1) a multiple behavior health contract, 2) a one-on-one tailored consultation, or 3) a combined consultation plus contract intervention. Baseline and 1-month post-intervention data were collected using computer-assisted questionnaires in a quiet office within the student health clinic.
Results: Omnibus repeated-measures analyses of variance were significant for drinking driving behaviors, F(2,136) = 4.43, p = .01, exercise behaviors, F(5,140) = 6.12, p = .00, nutrition habits, F(3,143) = 5.37, p = .00, sleep habits, F(2,144) = 5.03, p = .01, and health quality of life, F(5,140) = 3.09, p = .01, with improvements on each behavior across time. Analysis of group-by-time interaction effects showed an increase in the use of techniques to manage stress, F(2,144) = 5.48, p = .01, and the number of health behavior goals set in the last 30 days, F(2,143) = 5.35, p = .01, but only among adolescents receiving the consultation, or consultation plus contract. Effect sizes were consistently larger across health behaviors, and medium in size, when both consult and contract were used together.
Conclusions: Brief interventions using a positive goal image of fitness, and addressing a number of health habits using a contract and consultation strategy alone, or in combination, have the potential to influence positive changes in multiple health behaviors of college students attending a university primary health care clinic.