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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Theory of planned behavior and multivitamin supplement use in Caucasian college females

item Pawlak, Roman
item Brown, Denise
item Meyer, Mary
item Connell, Carol
item Yadrick, Kathleen
item Johnson, J
item Blackwell, Ann

Submitted to: Journal of Primary Prevention
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2007
Publication Date: 4/2/2008
Citation: Pawlak, R., Brown, D., Meyer, M.K., Connell, C., Yadrick, K., Johnson, J.T., Blackwell, A. 2008. Theory of planned behavior and multivitamin supplement use in Caucasian college females. Journal of Primary Prevention. 29(1):57-71.

Interpretive Summary: Folic acid is a vitamin that is essential in the prevention of neural tube defects in newborn babies. The best way to ensure that women are receiving adequate amounts of folic acid during childbearing age is through multivitamin supplementation, though various surveys show that only 9-43% of women use multivitamin supplements. In the past, many educational campaigns have provided information on folic acid and its importance in the prevention of neural tube defects to women of childbearing age, including college women, yet when asked, few of the women were able to identify the importance of folic acid in prevention of neural tube defects. This study surveyed college women to evaluate reasons that would influence them to use multivitamin supplements. The two most influential reasons indicated by the women were looking and feeling better and receiving nutrients they lacked from their diet. Another predictor of use was whether one could afford them. The women did not identify the need for folic acid in the prevention of neural tube defects as a significant reason to take multivitamin supplements. In women from the ages of 18-19, 75% of pregnancies are unplanned, and therefore many college-aged women may not see neural tube defects as an issue they should be concerned with. As a result, education campaigns and advice geared toward college age women related to neural tube defect prevention needs to be more focused on the factors that women perceive as important to their consideration of or decision to use supplements. These include promoting supplement use as beneficial for helping women to look and feel better and as a means of providing nutrients lacking in their diets. These approaches may increase the use of multivitamin supplements in college-aged women and help decrease the incidence of neural tube defects.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to identify predictors of the use of multivitamin supplements among Caucasian college females utilizing the Theory of Planned Behavior. Variables of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the self-reported use of multivitamin supplements were measured by two separate surveys within one week. A convenience sample of 96 Caucasian college females, were included in the analysis. Two attitudinal beliefs and one control belief significantly predicted behavioral intention to use multivitamin. A belief that taking multivitamin supplements helps to feel and look good was the most important predictor of the use of multivitamin supplements.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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