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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

William McBreen


Health promotion is a concept that has become increasingly popular during the past few decades. The general goal of health promotion is to enhance and prolong life. It has been found that the healthier lifestyle one leads, the longer one will live. To help individuals adopt healthier lifestyles, health care providers need to understand what factors influence the individual's choices related to lifestyle. Young adults are at an age of developing lifelong health habits that may influence them throughout their lives. Young adults are also a group of healthy individuals who have limited exposure to the health care system. They fall into a time period between childhood illnesses and chronic disease that decreases opportunities for health monitoring and individualized education. Consequently, this age group should be a target for encouraging healthy lifestyles in regard to disease prevention and health promotion. Various age groups have a variety of reasons for participating in health-promoting activities. The young adult may participate in activities more for the social satisfaction than for any health-promoting choice. The young adult may also choose to participate in a particular lifestyle with the knowledge that future health may be affected. The goal of living a long life is a realistic expectation for most young adults as life expectancy in the United States is increasing. Literature supports that the type of lifestyle one lives is a major factor in life expectancy (Edelman, 1990 and Wiley and Camacho, 1980). However, limited research has been done to determine if health-promoting activities and a person's perception of their own life expectancy are related. The need exists to describe the relationship between perceived life expectancy and health promoting activities participated in by the young adult. Lifestyle consists of discretionary activities which are a regular part of an individual's daily pattern of living (Wiley and Camacho, 1980). Certain components of lifestyle have a significant affect on overall health. Seven lifestyle variables have been found to be significantly associated with health. Those variables, or health practices, include hours of sleep, physical exercise, alcohol and cigarette consumption, obesity, eating between meals, and eating regular breakfasts (Belloc and Breslow, 1972). Further study and model development in health promotion have identified factors that determine health promoting behavior. The importance of health or health value; perceived control on health behavior; perceived health status; perceived self-efficiency; definition of health; and perceived benefits and barriers of health promoting behaviors are motivational mechanisms of health promotion (Fender, 1987). Nurses may have a substantial portion of the limited contact young adults have with any health care professional. Nurses should be aware of the health risks of this age group. Nurses need to identify risk factors and health promotional activities for young adults to assist them with informal choices. An increased awareness of the role of perceived life expectancy of young adults has in making health-related choices, assists nurses in understanding the behaviors, risks and lifestyle of the young adult. The problem under systematic inquiry in this study is What is the difference in health-promoting actions of young adults who anticipate a long life expectancy and those who do not?

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Young adults -- Health and hygiene
Health promotion
Health attitudes
Health behavior



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1992 Bette J. Gustafson. All rights reserved.