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The Covenant on Sept. 14, 2022. Credit: Ana Glassman

Wellness at Penn has invited students to complete a University-wide survey to assess community members’ health habits and allocate resources.

In a Sept. 11 email to students, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé encouraged students to participate in the National College Health Assessment survey, organized by the American College Health Association. He wrote that the responses will guide Wellness at Penn's policies and programming.

The survey, which is confidential and voluntary, aims to collect data about students’ knowledge, habits, attitudes, and overall health and well-being.

Associate Director of Public Health and Wellbeing Rebecca Huxta told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the NCHA Survey will allow Wellness at Penn to benchmark the Penn student body against those of other universities. It also provides information for the team to work with campus partners to identify areas in which students are in most need of improving their health and wellness.

“It’s a very robust survey,” Huxta said. “It provides us with a lot of information on various health and wellness topics, such as sexual health, nutrition, physical activity, infectious diseases, and substance use.”

For the first time, this year's NCHA survey includes questions about students’ interaction with gun violence. Dubé said Wellness at Penn will ensure that they are meeting the needs of Penn’s students according to the survey results.

“When it comes to gun violence, the headlines are pretty scary, but we want to know how much and if our students are being impacted by this — by where they live when they are not on campus and if they live off campus,” Dubé said. “We experienced the news headlines differently than all of our students do. This survey allows us to better assess what we should be doing.”

Dubé said if there is an unsuspected need in the Penn student population, the survey can illuminate those needs, and Wellness will catch up and offer services.

“The last time that we ran this survey was in 2019,” Huxta said, adding that this was before the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s now important for us to get that snapshot of campus now as we’re trying to re-evaluate to see what students really need, as it’s probably changed and shifted quite a bit.”

Students who take the survey will be entered into a raffle to possibly win a bag of Wellness at Penn merchandise, according to the email.

Huxta said that the survey also allows Wellness at Penn to add new data points to their decade-long trend lines from previous survey results.

Past NCHA survey results provided the Wellness team with data that showed demand for additional programming, leading to the inception of the Public Health and Wellbeing’s Sleep Well workshop, which ran last spring.