University students’ health representations: new definitions and challenges for the future


  • F. Fasseur
  • A. Duperrex
  • C. Mercerat
  • M. Santiago Delefosse


Historically, health definition has been explored through different theoretical models. Last definitions of health date from the last decades of the 20th century. Some scholars and applied psychologists observe that those definitions don’t fit with lay person’s life experience and consequently impair health promotion campaigns efficacy. The aim of this research is to explore health definitions given by young adults through their own discourses and provide some understanding of the motives of their health behaviours. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 138 Bachelor students (18 to 26 years old) and analysed with a thematic content analysis of discourses and a Lexicometric analysis using Iramuteq Software. As results, after coders’ agreement, we can assess that health and being healthy is a mixed individual experience that may include (or not): physical activity for wellness; healthy food behaviours; limited alcohol drinks; specific attention to sleep quality; limited medics consumption but regular use of homeopathy or other CAM; secure sexual behaviours (STI and pregnancy avoidance). However, this idyllic picture of health and healthy behaviours in young adults should make us aware that, at the same time, unhealthy behaviours exist such as smoking, unhealthy eating, binge drinking and medication consumption. Their discourses show us that they seem adopt mixed behaviours combining their own experiences and public health recommendations or media prevention messages. More research reducing social desirability biases and exploring real practices and behaviours should be developed.





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