Evaluation of the health and physical activity characteristics of undergraduate paramedic and nursing students

Peter S Micalos, Alexander J. MacQuarrie, Brian A. Haskins, Eileen Barry, Judith K. Anderson



Engagement in positive health behaviour and physical activity is important in reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases and disability later in life. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the health and physical activity characteristics of undergraduate paramedic and nursing students.


Descriptive and inter-discipline survey of university students enrolled in healthcare programs. The health status and physical activity patterns of paramedic and nursing undergraduate students were assessed by the health survey questionnaire (SF36) and international physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ), respectively. Comparisons for Health status – Total, health dimensions, and weekly metabolic equivalent (MET) were performed.


 A total of 226 undergraduate students were surveyed with 66.4% enrolled in the Paramedic, 17.7% in Nursing, and 15.9% enrolled in the double degree Nursing/Paramedic Bachelor programs. Results for the SF36 –Total show that there was a significant difference in health status between the undergraduate cohorts (P=0.001). Results for the IPAQ shows a significant difference in physical activity between the programs (P =0.030). Chi-Square analysis shows a significant proportion of students report low levels of physical activity (less than 600 MET-min/week). Comparison between IPAQ and Year of study show a significant difference between groups (P =0.007).


Substantially reduced health status and physical activity patterns were shown in nursing students compared to paramedic students and amongst 1st year university undergraduates. This research highlights the need to further investigate the health status and physical activity patterns within university healthcare students.


health status, mental health, vitality,

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