A Comprehensive Critique of the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment Survey Instrument
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There are many instruments used to identify health behaviors of a population. Used by both practitioners and researchers, one such instrument is the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (ACHA NCHA). While there are numerous published articles indicating use of the instrument, questions arise in the mind of the researcher whether data collected by the ACHA NCHA I and the ACHA NCHA II was valid and reliable. Psychometric properties of the instrument used to collect data on health behaviors are crucial in order to ensure the data are good quality data. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to reexamine the ACHA NCHA II by assessing the validity and reliability of the instrument while simultaneously studying one selected health behavior: withdrawal as a contraceptive method among the U.S. college population. This study is an exploration utilizing quantitative methodology to examine the validity and reliability of the data produced by the ACHA NCHA II and the effectiveness of the instrument in assessing college student health behaviors, trends, and perceptions. Two data sets, both used as secondary data and collected using the NCHA II, are used to assess the instrument: a data set collected at a single campus in three different semesters and a data set collected on multiple campuses in a single semester, combined to form a reference group. Data are analyzed to address psychometric properties by using Cronbach’s alpha and Factor Analysis to identify whether data are valid and reliable. The study findings reveal that the ACHA NCHA II is an instrument that should be used to collect frequency only data on college campuses. Use of the instrument to conduct higher level data analyses such as ANOVA and structural equation modeling should be done with caution as data produced by the ACHA NCHA II are mostly nominal or ordinal scale. Based on the findings from this study, it is suggested that an editing of the original instrument is needed, to allow researchers working on college campuses more opportunities to examine specific college health behaviors, habits, and trends. Finally, the instrument is implemented to study withdrawal as a contraceptive method in college students while simultaneously investigating the instrument’s effectiveness. Use of withdrawal as a method for contraception, the third most common method used by college students, is predicted in the data from this study by being female, being of Black/non-Hispanic descent, having high numbers of sexual partners, and being in an emotionally abusive relationship. In conclusion, the researcher from this study suggests that the instrument requires significant improvements before future use for research studies, including a reexamination of its questions and segmenting the items into a few smaller, more manageable instruments.
Rahn, Rhonda (2014). A Comprehensive Critique of the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment Survey Instrument. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from