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Open AccessArticle

A Study of the Perception of Health Risks among College Students in China

by Chenggang Zhang 1,* and Jingbo Fan 2,*
School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
College of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2133-2149;
Received: 17 December 2012 / Revised: 21 May 2013 / Accepted: 21 May 2013 / Published: 27 May 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior and Public Health)
The present survey was designed to investigate the perception of health risks among college students in China. The data are the responses of a sample of 3,069 college students at one university to surveys that include measures of several dimensions of public judgments about fifteen specific hazards. Chinese college students conveyed their concerns as falling into three broad categories: Environmental (e.g., global warming, natural catastrophes, the ozone hole, air pollution, chemical pollution, pesticides in food), Technological (e.g., nuclear power stations, thermal power, genetically modified food, medical X-rays), and Social (cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, overtime study or work, mental stress, motor vehicle accidents). The data were collected with a self-report questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to illustrate the levels of perceived risk according to the percent of “high risk” responses as well as the mean response values. Generally, the hazards that were perceived as posing the greatest health risk were those belonging to the social health risks; items related to technology risks received the lowest percentage of “high health risk” rankings. Traditional environmental risks such as natural catastrophes, pollution issues (chemical pollution, air pollution), and pesticides in food were ranked as being relatively high risks. The respondents were less concerned about new emerging issues and long-term environmental risks (global warming). In this survey, motor vehicle accidents were considered to be a “high health risk” by the greatest percentage of respondents. Generally speaking, the female respondents’ degree of recognition of health risks is higher than that of male respondents. Only for the item of smoking was the male respondents’ degree higher than that of females. There is also a geographic imbalance in the health risk perceptions. The degree of recognition of health risks from respondents in municipalities is generally lower than that of respondents from other areas except for items such as natural disasters, smoking, medical X-rays, and mental stress, which are exceptions. View Full-Text
Keywords: health risk; risk perception; college students; geographic differences; gender differences health risk; risk perception; college students; geographic differences; gender differences
MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, C.; Fan, J. A Study of the Perception of Health Risks among College Students in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 2133-2149.

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