Improving physical activity, mental health outcomes, and academic retention in college students with Freshman 5 to thrive: COPE/Healthy lifestyles

Bernadette Melnyk, Stephanie Kelly, Diana Jacobson, Kimberly Arcoleo, Gabriel Shaibi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess the preliminary effects of a new course entitled Freshman 5 to Thrive/COPE Healthy Lifestyles on the cognitive beliefs, knowledge, mental health outcomes, healthy lifestyle choices, physical activity, and retention of college freshmen. Data sources: Measures included demographics, nutrition knowledge, healthy lifestyle beliefs, healthy lifestyle perceived difficulty, healthy lifestyle choices, Beck Youth Inventories-II (anxiety, depression, anxiety, and destructive behavior), step count via pedometer, and college retention. Conclusions: The experimental COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) group had greater intentions to live a healthy lifestyle (p = .02) versus the comparison group. COPE students also significantly increased their physical activity (p = .003) from baseline to postintervention and had a higher college retention rate than students who did not take the course. In addition, there was a significant decrease in depressive and anxiety symptoms in COPE students whose baseline scores were elevated. Implications for practice: The Freshman 5 to Thrive Course is a promising intervention that can be used to enhance healthy lifestyle behaviors and improve mental health outcomes in college freshmen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014



  • Adolescent
  • Lifestyle
  • Mental health
  • Nutrition processes
  • Physical fitness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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