Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Gilbert Quintero

Commitee Members

Richard Sattler, Cindy Garthwait


dietary supplements, drug use, college students, health views


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Other Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


In the United States, reports within the last decade indicate college students are using dietary supplements at rates well above those reported for adult populations. Despite this prevalence, however, there continues to be a dearth of information examining behaviors related to this health phenomenon. This is problematic for many reasons, but especially because some research has found associations between use of these products and use of recreational drugs among this population.

Employing an integrated theoretical approach utilizing concepts from critical-interpretive medical anthropology (CIMA) and emerging adulthood, this research examined the ways in which supplement use related to sociocultural factors present in the United States. Specifically, this research focused on the ways in which perceptions of health and characteristics of the collegiate environment affected students’ decision to consume dietary supplements. Additionally, it evaluated the various beliefs students have towards these products and the ways in which their use was associated with recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.

In total, 30 students attending the University of Montana participated in this study during the spring 2014 semester. All but one individual completed a two-stage interview process that included: free listing and pile sorting activities, as well as a semi-structured interview. Through an analysis of the data derived from these methodological approaches, it was found that students’ supplement consumption was inextricably linked to dominant ideologies found in the contemporary United States, as well as to specific developmental characteristics associated with their life stage.



© Copyright 2014 Kelli M. Bradley