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.
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.