LiveWellNYU is a comprehensive framework that combines an evidence-based public health approach with innovative strategies for engagement to help students be healthy. Acknowledging that student health is inextricably linked to student success, LiveWellNYU aims to empower students to achieve their best possible health and to foster a University environment in which students can reach their full potential in all facets of their lives – in and out of the classroom.
The health issues that most impede academic achievement are largely preventable or treatable, which gives the University a huge opportunity for positive impact. LiveWellNYU promotes not only what can be done by individual students and the NYU Student Health Center but also provides strategies for faculty and staff; student leaders; parents, family, friends; and community partners to work together in a united and coordinated effort to improve the health and wellbeing of students. In collaboration with our partners in prevention, LiveWellNYU will create and sustain a healthy, thriving student population that will help build a healthier, more productive community.
The magnificent diversity of NYU’s student body—its varied ethnicity, country of origin, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, and even course of study—makes it especially critical for LiveWellNYU to adapt carefully to meet the specific needs of each individual student. Moreover, as NYU continues to build a leading global university, challenges arise in providing the necessary support to more than 50,000 students at 15 international locations. Yet its very global nature presents NYU with enormous opportunities for LiveWellNYU to create healthful change around the globe. Toward that end, LiveWellNYU has identified six strategic approaches that serve as the building blocks to support NYU students in achieving health and success.
LiveWellNYU promotes collaboration among key members of the NYU community - our "partners in prevention" - who have the capacity to influence the health of individual students. Engaging these partners also contributes profoundly to the formation of a wellness-supporting environment.
- Student Leaders - Students in leadership roles have the potential to change community norms by modeling positive health behaviors.(1) Empowered as trusted, credible leaders in the university community with effective communication skills(1,2) and the ability to inspire policy and decision making, these students can introduce new healthy trends into their spheres of influence.
- Faculty and Staff - As educators and mentors, University faculty and staff are uniquely positioned to have a positive influence on their students’ health. University faculty have a strong impact on students’ experiences; in fact, students who are engaged with faculty tend to be among those reporting the highest levels of achievement(3) and in other cases have been found to be less prone to reporting negative health outcomes.(4) NYU faculty and staff can positively influence their students’ health behaviors and outcomes by providing support, information, and resources.
- NYU Student Health Center - NYU’s award-winning Student Health Center (SHC) has long been recognized for its excellence in health-related programs and services for students. The SHC employs the necessary expertise to meet the unique health needs and challenges of college students. By continuing to prioritize education and prevention,(5) in addition to providing exceptional health care services, the NYU Student Health Center works to ensure the long-term health of NYU students.
- Parents, Family & Friends - Research demonstrates that both parents and peers play important roles in shaping young adults’ health beliefs and behaviors.(6) Family members and friends’ behaviors may be the most powerful socialization technique in the development of healthy lifestyles.(6)
- Community Partners - Improving coordination between NYU and the wealth of available resources within the surrounding community will maximize opportunities for the health and wellness of students both in and outside the University. Enhanced through collaboration with local businesses and organizations, these partnerships will increase the capacity of LiveWellNYU to implement comprehensive preventive health strategies.
Ninety-four percent of NYU students describe their general health as good or better(7) and the majority of students do not seek health services until they are ill or injured. As the World Health Organization defines it, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”(10) Using this multidimensional view of health, LiveWellNYU strives to support health and wellness across the continuum from prevention to acute illness management and all other relevant issues in between.
Research indicates that modifiable behavioral factors are leading causes of death in the United States.(8) Emerging adulthood, the period between 18 and 25 years of age, can be a pivotal time for establishing lasting health behaviors.(9) LiveWellNYU aims to to facilitate the formation of everyday habits habits, behaviors, and skills among studetns of all ages that will contribute to their overall health and to help them thrive academically and socially.
Through analysis of the behaviors and characteristics of NYU’s heterogeneous student population, LiveWellNYU will target health efforts for students in New York City and around the world. Segmenting the student population – the process of identifying subgroups based on shared attributes(11) – will allow LiveWellNYU to direct outreach and to provide focused and pertinent health interventions. Methods will be cultivated based on an awareness of the distinct needs and concerns of specific student populations.(12) This approach to targeting health interventions effectively optimizes prevention efforts.(13)
Although several barriers to engaging college students in health and wellness initiatives have been documented,(14,15) LiveWellNYU aims to overcome these obstacles with creative and innovative approaches using multiple modalities. Building on the strengths of NYU’s dynamic and talented faculty, staff, and students, LiveWellNYU will support a wide variety of activities that reinforce healthy behaviors. By incorporating strategies that are not traditionally associated with health into a unique multimedia platform, LiveWellNYU strives to transform the way that students and stakeholders think about health and wellness. In addition, LiveWellNYU will develop a system to incentivize health and wellness among students, a process which has been found to be effective in increasing preventive health behaviors.(16)
LiveWellNYU will harness the power of technology to offer students multiple, customized, evidence-based modalities to improve their health in an integrated and coordinated system. The latest national data on computer use, Internet penetration, and rapid adoption of social media demonstrate the broad potential reach of technology-based interventions to engage students around preventive health and wellness. Emerging evidence demonstrates the efficacy of Internet and other technology-based interventions to increase health knowledge and even change health behaviors.17,18,19 The use of social media and other interactive technologies offers several advantageous features that can support students in becoming more active partners in their personal health and wellness. Students can access digital resources at their convenience, without the constraints of structured in-person encounters and in a manner that can feel largely anonymous. In contrast to other public health interventions intended for large populations, digital resources can be structured to provide highly personalized messages and/or individual feedback based on participants’ characteristics and reported behaviors. Technology can be engaging, make use of a vast offering of interactive tools, and still allow for interactivity between students and professional staff – all while remaining relatively low-cost. Web analytics offers a real-time mechanism for professional staff to track the health information students want to learn, which allows for more effective and efficient development and dissemination of relevant information and resources. These benefits will be particularly helpful in addressing the unique challenges that NYU faces as a decentralized, global university in meeting the health and wellness needs of a highly diverse student population located in New York City and throughout the world.
LiveWellNYU places a strong emphasis on assessing the emerging data and research on promising evidence-based practices to shape its prevention strategies. Guiding the development of tactics by research ensures that NYU can adopt the most successful practices to improve student health.
- Banyard, V.L., Moynihan, M.M., & Crossman, M.T. (2009). Reducing sexual violence on campus: The role of student leaders as empowered bystanders. Journal of College Student Development. 50(4).
- Kelly, J. A. (2004). Popular opinion leaders and HIV prevention peer education: Resolving discrepant findings, and implications for the development of effective community programmes. Aids Care, 16, 139–150.
- Porter, S. R., & Pryor, J. (2007). The effects of heavy episodic alcohol use on student engagement, academic performance, and time use. Journal of College Student Development. 48(4), 455-467.
- Hyun, J., Madon, Q.B., & Lustig, S. (2007). Mental health need, awareness, and use of counseling services among international graduate students. Journal of American College Health, 56(2), 109-10.
- Roper, W.L. (2003, November). The campus: The ideal setting for health action. Aetna Student Health Spectrum, 4-5.
- Lau, R.R., Quadrel, M.J., & Hartman, K.A. (1990). Development and change of young adults' preventive health beliefs and behavior: Influence from parents and peers. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 31(3), 240-259.
- American College Health Association. American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment NYU 2011 Data. Hanover, MD: Author.
- Mokdad, A.H., Marks, J.S., Stroup, D.F., & Gerberding, J.L. (2004). Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(10): 1238-1245.
- Nelson, M.C., Story, M., Larson, N.I., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Lytle, L.A. (2008). Emerging adulthood and college-aged youth: An overlooked age for weight-related behavior change. Obesity, 16(10), 2205–2211.
- Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June - 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, No. 2, 100).
- Schmid, K.L., Rivers, S.E., Latimer, A.E., & Salovey, P. (2008). Targeting or tailoring? Maximizing resources to create effective health communications. Marketing Health Services, 28(1), 32–37.
- Kreuter, M., Strecher, V., & Glassman, B. (1999). One size does not fit all: The case for tailoring print materials. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 21, 1-9.
- Khan, J.G. (1996). The cost-effectiveness of HIV prevention targeting: How much more bang for the buck? American Journal of Public Health, 86(12).
- Coulter, A., & Ellins, J. (2007). Effectiveness of strategies for informing, educating, and involving patients. BMJ, 335(7609). 24–27.
- Jackson, E.S., Tucker, C.M., & Herman, K.C. (2007). Health value, perceived social support, and health self-efficacy as factors in a health-promoting lifestyle. Journal of American College Health, 56(1).
- Kane, R.L., Johnson, P.E., Town, R.J., & Butler, M. (2004). A structured review of the effect of economic incentives on consumers' preventive behavior. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27(4), 27-352.
- Harvey-Berino, J., Pintauro, S., Buzzell, P., DiGiulio, M., Gold, B.C., & Moldovan, C. (2002). Does using the Internet facilitate the maintenance of weight loss? International Journal of Obesity, 26, 1254–1260.
- McKay, H.G., King, D., Eakin, E.G., Seeley, J.R., & Glasgow, R.E. (2001). The diabetes network Internet-based physical activity intervention: A randomized pilot study. Diabetes Care, 24, 1328–1334.
- Plotnikoff, R.C, McCargar, L.J., Wilson, P.M., & Loucaides, C.A. (2005). Efficacy of an e-mail intervention for the promotion of physical activity and nutrition behavior in the workplace context. America Journal of Health Promotion, 19, 422–429.