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Ethn Dis. 2005 Autumn;15(4):540-7.

Predictors of multivitamin supplement use among African-American female students: a prospective study utilizing the theory of planned behavior.

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University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA.



Public health officials recommend that women capable of becoming pregnant use folic acid-containing supplements (FAS) to prevent neural tube defects (NTD) in their newborn infants. However, the knowledge about NTD prevention and the prevalence of the use of FAS among women capable of becoming pregnant increased only modestly since the issuing of the recommendation in 1992. Since most commonly available multivitamin supplements (MVS) contain the recommended 400 gg of folic acid, finding out reasons why women take MVS and utilizing these factors in educational campaigns may contribute to increasing the use of FAS.


The Theory of Planned Behavior variables and the self-reported use of MVS were measured by two separate surveys within one week. A preliminary open-ended questionnaire was utilized to elicit beliefs about MVS. A convenience sample of 100 African-American female college students, mean age 20.99 (SD=1.7) years, participated in this study.


Approximately 65% of variance in behavioral intention was explained by attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control (P<.001). Subjective norms had the greatest influence (3=0.348, P<.001), followed by PBC (3=0.336, P<.001), and attitude (1=0.228, P<.038). Behavioral intention significantly predicted the use of MVS accounting for =59.2% of variance.


Consistent with the results of the present study, educational campaigns that target African-American female college students to encourage the use of MVS should focus on the impact of physicians, family, and peers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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