Community-Based Participatory Research: Partnering with College Students to Develop a Tailored, Wellness-Focused Intervention for University Campuses

Makenzie L. Barr, Jade McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


College students face unique challenges with leading healthful lifestyles. Using a community-based participatory research approach, college student research partners at two land-grant universities collected data and developed a tailored intervention to improve the well-being of college students. To inform the design of the program, college students were trained to conduct a needs assessment that included a campus-wide survey on the health behaviors of college students, environmental audits of health policies and food pantries on campus, and stakeholder interviews with campus health professionals. Outcomes of the needs assessment data highlighted university students ranked their health as “good” but nutrition health as “fair/poor.” Low or very low food security was self-reported by 36.9% of participants and had an overall diet quality score of 47.6 ± 10.1 out of 100. Health professional interview data indicated campuses provide healthful resources to students, but students are not aware those resources exist. Utilizing the needs assessment data previously mentioned, the nominal group technique was then used for student research partners to collaboratively determine the best intervention approaches and develop a wellness program. Student partners identified (1) education, (2) sharing of campus resources, and (3) incentives as important areas of intervention. Using the data collected, the student research partners developed a program titled, The College Cooking Connection, to address health-related quality of life in college students. Using a community-based participatory research approach to program planning, educators and researchers have a greater likelihood of addressing the current needs of the population they are targeting and developing a successful intervention to meet those health concerns. This study aims to partner with young adult university students to understand the college environment and allow the target community to be involved with the development of intervention programs for their campus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16331
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by USDA-NIFA-AFRI, grant number 007052, and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch ME013054538 through the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • college students
  • community-based
  • health-related quality of life
  • program development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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