A latent class analysis of cancer risk behaviors among U.S. college students

Joseph Kang*, Christina Czart Ciecierski, Emily L. Malin, Allison J. Carroll, Marian Gidea, Lynette L. Craft, Bonnie Spring, Brian Hitsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study is to understand how cancer risk behaviors cluster in U.S. college students and vary by race and ethnicity. Methods: Using the fall 2010 wave of the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), we conducted a latent class analysis (LCA) to evaluate the clustering of cancer risk behaviors/conditions: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, alcohol binge drinking, and overweight/obesity. The identified clusters were then examined separately by students' self-reported race and ethnicity. Results: Among 30,093 college students surveyed, results show a high prevalence of unhealthy diet as defined by insufficient fruit and vegetable intake (>. 95%) and physical inactivity (>. 60%). The LCA identified behavioral clustering for the entire sample and distinct clustering among Black and American Indian students. Conclusions: Cancer risk behaviors/conditions appear to cluster among college students differentially by race. Understanding how risk behaviors cluster in young adults can lend insight to racial disparities in cancer through adulthood. Health behavior interventions focused on modifying multiple risk behaviors and tailored to students' racial group could potentially have a much larger effect on cancer prevention than those targeting any single behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-125
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment
  • Cancer risk behaviors
  • College students
  • Latent class analysis
  • Racial disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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