Knowledge, Beliefs, and Behaviors Among College Women Concerning the Prevention of Osteoporosis
Mark J. Kasper, EdD;
Margaret G. E. Peterson, PhD;
John P. Allegrante, PhD;
Theresa D. Galsworthy, RN, ONC;
Bernard Gutin, PhD
Arch Fam Med. 1994;3(8):696-702.
To assess the knowledge of osteoporosis risk factors among young women, their beliefs about the disease, and to what extent they practice preventive behaviors, such as adequate calcium intake and physical activity.
One hundred twenty-seven women (mean age, 19.6 years; 92% were white) enrolled in a required undergraduate health course at a midwestern state university.
One hundred fourteen (90%) of the survey respondents had heard about osteoporosis, but only 49 (43%) of the 114 had received information from either a health care provider or a school. There was a significant relationship between receiving osteoporosis information and the ability to correctly identify risk factors (P.006). Only 6.7% of the women reported getting both adequate "osteoprotective" exercise per week and the recommended 1200 mg of calcium per day. Respondents believed that it was unlikely that osteoporosis would develop in them. They also expressed less responsibility and concern about osteoporosis and believed that it is less serious than other common causes of morbidity and mortality in women, such as heart disease and breast cancer (P.02). There was no significant relationship between risk-factor identification and exercise habits, calcium intake, or beliefs about osteoporosis.
The majority of young women are not consuming the recommended daily amount of calcium and are lacking sufficient osteoprotective exercise for building healthy bone. Health care providers and educational institutions either have missed opportunities to educate young women about osteoporosis or such information has not been received and retained. Increasing levels of osteoporosis awareness may not be associated with influencing beliefs or behaviors. However, because of the importance of building an adequate bone mass in early life, our data suggest that the development and evaluation of comprehensive osteoporosis educational interventions targeted at younger women are warranted.
From the Department of Physical Education, College of Education and Professional Studies, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston (Dr Kasper); the Department of Biomechanics (Dr Peterson), the Cornell Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease Center (Drs Peterson and Allegrante), the Osteoporosis Center (Ms Galsworthy), Hospital for Special Surgery, and Teachers College and the School of Public Health, Columbia University, (Dr Allegrante), New York, NY; and the Georgia Prevention Institute, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta (Dr Gutin).
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