Original Articles

Study population, questionnaire, data management and sample description


Abstract


Introduction. This article describes methodological issues of the “Sportello Salute Giovani” project (“Youth Health Information Desk”), a multicenter study aimed at assessing the health status and attitudes and behaviours of university students in Italy. Materials and methods. The questionnaire used to carry out the study was adapted from the Italian health behaviours in school-aged children (HBSC) project and consisted of 93 items addressing: demographics; nutritional habits and status; physical activity; lifestyles; reproductive and preconception health; health and satisfaction of life; attitudes and behaviours toward academic study and new technologies. The questionnaire was administered to a pool of 12 000 students from 18 to 30 years of age who voluntary decided to participate during classes held at different Italian faculties or at the three “Sportello Salute Giovani” centers which were established in the three sites of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome). Results. The final study sample was composed by 8516 university students. The mean age of responders was 22.2 (Standard Deviation 2.0) and 5702 (67.0%) were females. According to the distribution in age classes, 3601 (43.3%) belonged to the 18-21 one, 3796 (44.5%) to the 22-24 class and 1019 (12.2%) to the 25-30 class. With respect to socio-economic status, data were available for 8410 responders and showed that 50.3% of students belonged to the middle class. Discussion. The project took into consideration a large number of individuals from different regions of the country and therefore may be considered representative of the general population of Italian university students. Furthermore, it is the first to address, at the same time, several issues, in particular attitudes and behaviours toward health, in Italian university students. Conclusion. The analysis of data from such a large sample of university students sets the basis for identifying the most appropriate interventions in order to address the specific needs of this population.


Keywords


university students, Italy, demographics

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