Tag Archives: Social Support Networks

Health Sciences (HSS) Buddy Program: Evaluation of its First Year

Author: Mostafa Abdul-Fattah, Rita Hafizi, Hiba Abdul-Fattah, Sonia Gulati, Raywat Deonandan


In the 2011-2012 academic year, the HSS Buddy Program pilot project was implemented in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Intended to address rising student anxiety levels, the program teamed freshmen (first year) students with groups of older students to promote more instances of casual social interaction. Participants’ perceptions of the program were universally positive in terms of how enjoyable it was, its usefulness, and its relevance to student needs. Suggested improvements include recruiting of more male participants, liaising with school administrators to help avoid scheduling conflicts, starting the program earlier in the academic year, and forming social groups with fewer students. Overall, the approach undertaken by the Buddy Program was seen to be a valuable one worthy of continuation and growth.

Continue reading Health Sciences (HSS) Buddy Program: Evaluation of its First Year

Parental and Peer Influences on Adolescent Smoking: A Literature Review

Author: Cailin Mulvihill


Smoking cigarettes has been widely accepted as a negative health behaviour associated with many serious risks. Adolescent smoking is of particular interest from a public health perspective as the initiation of smoking in adolescence has been associated with higher addiction rates in adulthood. This review of the literature will examine the influence of social support networks, particularly parents and peers, on the initiation and escalation of adolescent smoking. The influence of social support networks primarily operates through the social learning theory, in which the adolescent mimics the behaviour of those in their social network. The literature suggests that while parents are more influential in young adolescence, peers become the main source of influence in later adolescence through processes known as peer selection and peer influence. Parents can positively affect adolescents’ smoking behaviour through effective communication and maintenance of a healthy parent-child relationship. Peers can also positively influence smoking behaviour through the same mechanisms of peer influence and selection. Knowledge of how parents and peers influence adolescent smoking initiation and escalation can potentially assist in developing public health programming that targets this high-risk behaviour.

Continue reading Parental and Peer Influences on Adolescent Smoking: A Literature Review

Queers in the Classroom: The Role of Sexual Identity in the Academic Experiences of Gay Male Graduate Students

Author: John Ecker


The experiences of three self-identified gay male graduate students were explored to understand the role that sexual orientation played within their academic lives. Through semi-structured interviews, the participants were able to share their experiences of being a gay male graduate student and the effects on their educational experience. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. Three main themes emerged: a) choosing to disclose sexual identity within the academic setting; b) challenges encountered when interacting with classmates; and c) benefits of being a gay male graduate student. Findings suggest that managing and expressing one’s sexual identity are important processes that interact with several aspects of the life of gay male graduate students.

Continue reading Queers in the Classroom: The Role of Sexual Identity in the Academic Experiences of Gay Male Graduate Students

Personal Health Responsibility: Blaming Victims or Empowering Nations?

Author: Nicholas VALELA


The place for personal responsibility within healthcare has been highly contested within academic debate. Meanwhile, leading causes of death within the United States have shifted to chronic disease as a result of lifestyle behaviours suggesting the need for health promotion to take action. In this position paper, I will argue that the less punitive element of personal responsibility implied by health promotion is both ethically justifiable and beneficial as a means of empowering the individual, population and healthcare system as a whole. Several counter-arguments are presented and subsequently refuted: health responsibility unduly places blame upon vulnerable populations; administration of negative sanctions based on health responsibility is difficult; and actions detrimentally affecting health are not certain to be autonomously undertaken by the individual. Arguments in favour are then presented: a dependence of the population upon the healthcare system has been created; empowerment is effective as the central guiding principle of health promotion; and sensible care for oneself should be a duty of citizens, which they are required to fulfill as the healthcare system is not in a position to act as an unlimited resource. As such, health promotion must continue to emphasize the importance of sensible health behaviour as a means of empowering individuals through self responsibility.

Continue reading Personal Health Responsibility: Blaming Victims or Empowering Nations?