The National Social Norms Institute and the Department of Student Health at the University of Virginia, with the help of funding from the Centers for Disease Control, have established the first college health database – representing more than 600,000 students at 19 schools.
The primary goal of the College Health Surveillance Network is to have a national sample of colleges and universities that will allow valid and reliable estimates of health conditions, vaccination uptake, and utilization of health services among college students. The data is gathered from de-identified electronic health records.
Dr. James Turner, executive director of U.Va. Student Health and past president of the American College Health Association, is available for interviews on college students' health issues. These include not only common health conditions, such as influenza and sexually transmitted infections, but also mental health concerns, such as depression and eating disorders.
Turner explains that the college population is a unique subset of all 18- to 24-year-olds. "College communities are geographically diverse, highly mobile and densely populated with congregate living and learning conditions," he said. "Campuses are not only vulnerable to the introduction of contagious diseases, but in addition, college students often experience conditions related to lifestyle and behavior." This project represents the first attempt to use college health service clinical data to better understand the epidemiologic trends of this important group of Americans.
Turner is the lead investigator for the database project, which is seeking to increase the number of participating schools. Jennifer Bauerle, director of the National Social Norms Institute, and Adrienne Keller, the institute's director of research, are co-investigators.
Information is available here.
About the National Social Norms Institute
Established in 2006 at the University of Virginia, the National Social Norms Institute seeks to research, evaluate and disseminate information on the social norms that contribute to the behavior of college students, including alcohol use. Its goal is to demonstrate and facilitate the extension of the methodology to other health issues and other populations. The NSNI advisory board consists of prominent researchers and academicians in the field.