Pharm.D. (six years)


Cohen, Lisa

Advisor Department

Pharmacy Practice (PHP)




Healthcare majors; students; risk perception; diabetes


Objective: To determine risk perception of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in health orientated majors at the University of Rhode Island and if perceived risk is significantly different in those who have trouble affording nutritious foods.

Methods: An email was sent to an academic advisor for the doctorate of pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, kinesiology, pre-professional health studies, nutrition, and health studies programs at the University of Rhode Island. Pre-pharmacy was included in pre-professional health studies. An additional email was sent to a professor in the nutrition department. The advisors and the nutrition professor then sent out an email with the survey link to their academic students. Survey Monkey Pro was used to format, record, and deliver the risk perception survey. The Risk Perception Survey in Developing Diabetes (RPS-DD) is a 43 item validated survey that measures personal control, worry, optimistic bias, personal disease risk, comparative environmental risk, and diabetes risk knowledge. Scoring was determined by using the scoring guide developed by the author. Eight additional demographic questions were added to the beginning of the survey. The additional questions asked subjects their age, gender, year in school, major, GPA, diabetes status, how often they hear or read about diabetes, and if they are financially capable of purchasing adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Results: Of the 184 students who responded to their advisor’s email by beginning the survey, 125 students completed the survey. All respondents did not have type 2 diabetes at the time of the survey, and 35 of the 125 respondents believed they were not financially capable of affording adequate amounts of non-processed foods such as fruits and vegetables. Composite risk perception in the study population was at an average of 2.03 with the highest perceived risk rated as a 4. On average, healthcare majors at the university answered 7 correct questions out of the 11 questions on the diabetes knowledge assessment included in the survey. A parametric Levene’s test for equality of variance was performed to determine if financial burden has an impact in personal control, worry, optimistic bias, personal disease risk, comparative environmental risk, and diabetes risk knowledge. The results from the test indicate that variance is equal between the 2 groups in all parameters measured (p>0.05).

Conclusions: Perceived risk of developing diabetes in health focused majors at the University of Rhode Island is relatively mild and does not appear to be significantly different in the population unable to afford adequate amounts of nutritious foods.