Avoiding the Next “Great Plague”

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jonathan Hagood, Hope College
Dr. Nancy Barnum, Hope College

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Illness outbreaks on college campuses are common occurrences that affect a large number of students that populate those campuses. These outbreaks, if not controlled adequately, can become a public health issue affecting large numbers of students and eventually members of the community. The focus of this research is to gain a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings students had concerning their health safety and perceived control of the situation during a specific outbreak in the fall of 2008 on the campus of a small mid-western college. The study is based on the nursing framework of Florence Nightingale and her theory that utilizes environmental changes to provide care. This qualitative project will be carried out in the form of focus groups of 6-10 participants. Discussion will take place in a “conversation friendly” setting and led by a peer to the participants. A student recorder will note what the participants say as well as their body language and tone to better understand their perceptions of the event. Data will be analyzed using qualitative methods to discover emerging themes. Results and conclusions are pending. The study is limited in that subjects were from only one college campus and were limited to only those students that were actually on campus during the outbreak. The future implication for this study is to develop a protocol for college campuses to use that may potentially decrease the number of students affected by future outbreak on campus, as well as members within the neighboring communities.

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