OBJECTIVE: To analyze differences in health behavior among students studying health related subjects in public universities, between the beginning and end of their courses. METHODS: The study sample comprised 735 students in health sciences at the public universities in Pernambuco state (Northeastern Brazil) in 2006. The data were collected by means of the National College Health Risk Behavior Survey that had been validated previously for use among university students. Descriptive and inferential statistical techniques were used. The chi-square test or Fisher's exact test was used to analyze associations. Results were considered to be significant for p<0.05. RESULTS: The majority (69.5%) of students were female. Fewer students were found to be living with their parents or a guardian by the end of the course. However there were no significant differences for violent behavior, related to weight and physical activity, nor for most behavior relating to traffic safety and food intake. The consumption of alcohol (68.8% vs. 83.3%), tobacco (40.7% vs. 52.5%) and inhalants (10.2% vs. 21.9%) and sexual practices (62.5% vs. 85.0%) were more frequent by the end of the course, with statistically significant differences. CONCLUSIONS: In general, health behaviors did not differ significantly between students at the beginning and end of graduate courses in health sciences.
Students, Health Occupations; Life Style; Health Behavior; Health Knowledge; Health Knowledge; Questionnaires