Predictors of Behavioral Intention and Vitamin Supplement Use in a College Sample of Mexican-American Women




Gutierrez, Kevin M.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Neural tube defects (NTDs) are malformations of the brain and spine which can result from inadequate folic acid intake (CDC, 2007). Every year approximately 3000 deaths in the United States are attributable to NTDs. All women who are capable of conceiving a child should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid in order to substantially decrease the likelihood of an NTD-affected pregnancy (CDC, n.d.). Hispanic women are a particularly vulnerable population. In the United States, NTD occurrence has been highest among Hispanics when compared to African American and white women populations (CDC, n.d.). A widely cited and useful model in explaining behavior is Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior (TPB) that has recently been applied, with promising results, to vitamin supplementation (Conner, 2001). A review of the literature in Psychlnfo and Medline reveals an absence of studies exploring predictor variables of vitamin intake in the Latino female population. Thus, one might expect Ajzen’s TPB to also apply to the Latino population. Based on Ajzen’s TPB model, I predict: vitamin takers should; (1) have more positive attitudes towards taking vitamins; (2) perceive more pressure from others to take vitamins; (3) have greater Perceived Behavioral Control; and (4) have greater Intentions to take vitamins than non-vitamin takers. Furthermore, I predict: (5) Attitude, Subjective Norm, and Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC) predict intention to take vitamins; and (6) Perceived Behavioral Control and Intention predict vitamin intake. Results of this study show that vitamin takers perceived more pressure from others to take vitamins, had greater PBC towards taking vitamins, and had greater intentions to take vitamins when compared to non-vitamin takers. However, the two groups did not differ on measures of Attitude towards vitamins. In addition, Attitude, Subjective Norm, and PBC predicted Intention to take vitamins with the Subjective Norm factor being the strongest predictor of Intention to take vitamins. Furthermore, Intention, but not PBC, predicted self-reported Vitamin Intake. By ascertaining the predictors of vitamin intake in Hispanics successful interventions can be tailored to increase their vitamin supplementation resulting in decreased incidence of NTDs.



folic acid in human nutrition, Mexican American women, vitamins, behavioral assessment, human nutrition, health and hygiene


Gutierrez, K. M. (2009). Predictors of behavioral intention and vitamin supplement use in a college sample of Mexican-American women (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI