Florida Public Health Review


Diabetes places a tremendous burden of health inequity on African-American women in the United States. Behavioral risk factors for diabetes underscore the importance of determining to what extent African-American college students are motivated to adhere to protective behaviors that may decrease the likelihood of diabetes onset. The purpose of this study was to evaluate threat and coping appraisal of diabetes among African-American women enrolled in college, using the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) as a theoretical framework. Questionnaires were administered to 128 African-American women between the ages of 18 and 25 who were enrolled at Florida A & M University, the nation’s largest historically Black university. Bivariate correlations were performed to determine associations involving protection motivation factors (coping and threat appraisals), diabetes knowledge, and demographic characteristics. Statistically significant associations were found between the demographic and knowledge of diabetes variables, and the coping appraisal process. Significant associations were not found with the threat appraisal variables. Furthermore, there was a significant relationship for the maladaptive response of the PMT model between dietary intake levels and perceived severe diabetes threat. For this sample of African-American female students, efforts that articulate active coping strategies may be more effective than those that focus on threat perception. Culturally competent and age appropriate nutrition, physical activity and diabetes education should be increased, given the high percentage of misconceptions about health protection behaviors among study participants. Continuous health education interventions and research focusing on African-American women of college age are needed.