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An exploration of first-generation college graduate health outcomes in early adulthood

Bihm, Jasmine. (2017). An exploration of first-generation college graduate health outcomes in early adulthood. Milken Institute School of Publich Health Poster Presentations. The George Washington University.

Bihm, Jasmine. (2017). An exploration of first-generation college graduate health outcomes in early adulthood. Milken Institute School of Publich Health Poster Presentations. The George Washington University.

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Chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and obesity are among the most common, costly, and preventable illnesses prevalent in the United States. Understanding the social and economic factors that influence individual and community health has become important as growing evidence points to the effect of the interplay of the social, physical, health services, and structural environment on one's health. Education is one such factor that has become increasingly recognized as an important social determinant of health, and parental education has been shown to be associated with educational and occupational outcomes in children. Guided by the Ecological Model of Health, this research sought to understand first-generation college status as a social status factor. Almost one-third of the national undergraduate population is first-generation college students - those whose parents did not earn a postsecondary degree; they are an important, growing, but often hidden population. The current study is a secondary analysis of data collected as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). This research investigated the relationship of first-generation college graduate status to health (measured by Body Mass Index and blood pressure) of individuals aged 24-32 years old, as well as potential mediators of the relationship – health behaviors, stress and social support. Results indicated that approximately 44% of college graduates are first-generation and were 1.6 times more likely to be from a minority group than their continuing generation peers (95% CI:1.27, 2.25) (p = 0.000). They were 3.91 times more likely to come from families with incomes below the median for college graduates ($51,000) than their peers (95% CI: 2.97, 5.15) (p = 0.000). First-generation college graduates had statistically significantly higher mean BMIs than their peers (28.41 and 26.62, respectively); first-generation college graduate status had a significant association to BMI, even while controlling individually for health behaviors, social support, and adolescent family income. Health behavior and social support did not mediate the relationship between first-generation college graduate status and health, but social support differed significantly between first and continuing generation college graduates. The findings have implications for national policies concerned with support of first-generation college graduates while in college and with the transition into early adulthood. This is the first study, to the author's knowledge, to use a nationally-representative dataset (Add Health) to generate a profile of first-generation college graduates in early adulthood and to explore the health outcomes of first-generation college graduates.


Education; Educational attainment; First generation college graduates; Health behavior; Social determinants of health; Social support


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Milken Institute School of Publich Health Poster Presentations


Bihm, Jasmine



2017










The George Washington University





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