Summer 2006    Vol. 14, Issue 1


Healthy Campus Initiative Takes Forward Strides

In spring 2005, Syracuse University’s Health Services launched “Orange Health-E,” an electronic newsletter intended to provide students with preventive health advice and healthy tips about nutrition, exercise and risky-behavior avoidance.

From April 6 through May 10, 2005, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, with support from CECHE, conducted an electronic survey among 6,000 randomly selected students to assess the usage and helpfulness of this new health-promotion newsletter. A total of 301 responses were obtained, yielding a response rate of 5 percent. Demographics showed that the sample contained proportionately more females and graduate students than the actual student population.

Highlights of the 2005 survey revealed that friends were the most widely used source of health information, closely followed by parents and the Internet. Nine out of 10 students also rated both their parents and the Internet 7.2 on a 1-10 helpfulness scale. The next most helpful source of health information was health-focused coursework, but this involved only 43.8 percent of the students. At the time of the fieldwork, the electronic newsletter, which had just been launched, was rated 4.8 on helpfulness and used by 43.4 percent of the students.

This spring, a follow-up survey was conducted from April 4 through April 25 among 4,000 randomly selected students. A total of 323 responses were obtained, yielding a response rate of 8.1 percent. As in the first survey, the respondent sample skewed female and included more graduate students than the actual student body.

This time around, parents were rated as the most helpful source of health information, with nine out of 10 students rating their parents 7.0 on a 1-10 helpfulness scale. Parents were also one of the most widely used health information sources, tapped by 93.5 percent of respondents. Family doctors also received a 7.0 helpfulness rating and were used by 87.8 percent of the respondents. The third most helpful source of health information (6.7 helpfulness mean) was the Internet, followed by health-focused coursework (6.2 helpfulness mean), which was used by 50.2 percent of the students, an almost 7 percentage-point increase from the 2005 survey results.

The electronic newsletter increased its helpfulness rating to 5.9 and its usage among respondents rose to 63.9 percent, a more than 20 percentage-point increase, and proof that “Orange Health-E” is broadening its reach and becoming more effective in serving the student population.

Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
4437 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Tel: (202) 965-5990 . Fax: (202) 965-5996