Mediation Analysis of the Relationship between health-related knowledge and attitudes and health risk behaviors among Portuguese university students
This cross-sectional study has examined, by resorting to a self-reporting questionnaire, the relationship between health-related knowledge and attitudes and health risk behaviors among of 840 Portuguese university, using a stratified sampling depending on the academic year and the scientific area of study. The analysis of structural equations was used to analyze the relationship between all variables that constitute the study. Results arising from this research have shown that university students do indeed engage in behaviors that constitute a risk for their health, revealing poor knowledge about health and moderately favorable attitudes towards the adoption of engagement in risk behaviors. The mediation analysis indicated that the degree or quality of knowledge about health and the attitudes regarding health were statistically significant predictive factors for identifying risk behaviors. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated and revealed that the attitudes towards health have a mediating effect between knowledge about health and the risk behaviors for one’s health. Findings from this study indicate that public health and education policies should promote healthy behaviors among university students. The interventions may take advantage of and expand upon the positive health behaviors and consider individual differences.