Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Health Science, Health Promotion


Community and Environmental Health

Major Advisor

Theodore W. McDonald, Ph.D.


Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D.


Caile E. Spear, Ph.D.


Healthy Habits, Healthy U (HHHU) is a school-based cancer prevention program. This program is a collaborative effort among Boise State University, St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, and the Boise School District. HHHU started in April 2013 as a community outreach initiative designed to teach and reinforce positive health habits in students. HHHU lessons target eighth-grade students and offer a unique approach highlighting the relationships among nutrition, physical activity, sugar-sweetened beverages, and cancer risks, through a variety of educational materials.

The purpose of this study was to assess program efficacy by evaluating short-term outcomes. The study evaluated the effectiveness of HHHU at increasing students’ knowledge regarding cancer, and how the risk of developing cancer is affected by nutrition, physical activity levels, and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Additionally, the study evaluated students’ ability to identify positive behavioral intentions. A quasi-experimental design using pretest/posttest surveys, which were administered by Health teachers to students in both the intervention group (IG) and delayed intervention group (DIG), was used to evaluate the program.

The HHHU program was presented to 969 Boise School District (BSD) eighth-grade students. Of those, 439 participated in the short-term outcome evaluation of the program (n = 439), yielding a 45% response rate. Results of the study indicate that the HHHU program increases students’ knowledge related to how their health habits (nutrition, physical activity, and sugar-sweetened beverages) increase or decrease the risk of developing cancer. However, the program did not increase general cancer knowledge, or improve students’ skills in establishing behavioral intentions.

This preliminary study of the short-term outcomes of the HHHU program is promising and indicates that the program is effective in increasing students’ knowledge across a number of cancer-related domains. HHHU should continue to be used as a school-based cancer prevention program in the BSD. Further research is necessary to further validate and establish reliability metrics for the HHHU program.