Date of Award

Spring 6-2023

Scholarly Projects

Projects: SPU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



Faculty Chair

Heidi Monroe

Faculty Reader

Vicki Aaberg

Executive Summary

Title: Improving Undergraduate Students’ Knowledge of Meningitis

Background and Significance: Bacterial meningitis is a disease that can cause outbreaks in close-knit communities. College campuses are at risk due to communal living in dormitories. In the United States, around 1,000 individuals get meningococcal disease each year, and even with antibiotic therapy 10 to 15 people out of 100 will die (National Meningitis Association [NMA], n.d.-b; Washington State Department of Health [WSDOH], n.d.-a). Among those that live, they are not devoid of long-term health complications. It is estimated that about 20% of those who survive have lasting permanent disability (NMA, n.d.-a). Brain and kidney dysfunction, permanent hearing problems, and limb amputations describe just some examples of the complication’s individuals could experience long-term. (NMA, n.d.-a). In recent years, there have been notable meningitis serogroup B outbreaks in universities throughout the United States (Capitano et al., 2019; NMA, n.d.-a.; Ritscher et al., 2019). Many students have not received the meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) vaccine indicating that further health promotion efforts are indicated to prevent disease (NMA, n.d.-b).

Problem and Purpose Statements: Per RCW 70.54.370, colleges and universities that offer communal living are required to provide information to students regarding meningitis (WSDOH, n.d.-c). The university utilizes a one-page quick-facts handout from the Washington State Department of Health to address this requirement. Students must read and sign that they acknowledge the information from this handout for admissions. While the information might be helpful to view for a quick reference, it might not be enough for health promotion and disease prevention measures. The purpose of this project was to develop an interactive, enjoyable module that educates and increases students’ knowledge of this important health topic.

Methods: This project utilized a quasi-experimental design. It was implemented online using three web generated links: a pre-test, the module, and a post-test. The principal investigator (PI) utilized convenience sampling to recruit participants. The PI searched for faculty from the school’s time schedule and public directory for instructors most likely to have freshman students. The PI emailed instructors to distribute the participation opportunity to their students so that the PI could maintain anonymity from participants. The pre-test and post-test were compared using descriptive statistics to assess whether the intervention was effective in increasing knowledge levels for the topic. Demographic questions were collected to assess key characteristics of the sample such as class standing.

Results/Outcomes: This project was successful in increasing undergraduate students’ knowledge about bacterial meningitis. Post-intervention there was a 50.55% increase for knowledge of symptoms, a 33% increase for disease transmission, a 31.67% increase for general knowledge pertaining to the topic, a 25% increase in knowledge of vaccinations and a 23% increase in understanding complications of the disease. From the sample, 92% did not remember the current one-paged quick-facts handout that the school provided for admissions. Eighty-one percent of students either agreed or strongly agreed that the module was enjoyable to complete. One hundred percent of students felt their knowledge levels about bacterial meningitis increased from completing the education.

Sustainability: Since the intervention was effective, the PI recommended its use by Health Services. The director of Health Services conveyed interested in using the intervention on their website as a supplemental educational tool to the current quick-facts handout. The PI has provided the director with the educational module, copyright permissions for images used in the education obtained by the PI, Washington State Department of Health approval to use the education, and instructions for how to make edits to the education over time. Due to the ease of using an electronic platform to distribute the information and ability to make edits to the intervention as needed, the education is sustainable long-term.

Implications: The results of this project support the use of the intervention for undergraduate college students at the university. The intervention demonstrated that knowledge levels increased post-intervention and most students who participated agreed that it could be helpful to future students. If the intervention helps drive health behaviors such as getting vaccinated, symptom recognition and helps inform students when and how to seek care, then the intervention has practical implications for this university. Preventing an outbreak through health promotion measures also minimizes the financial catastrophe that could be imposed on the university by an outbreak (Capitano et al., 2019).


Capitano, B., Dillon, K., LeDuc, A., Atkinson, B., & Burman, C. (2019). Experience implementing a university-based mass immunization program response to a meningococcal B outbreak. Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, 15(3), 717-724.

National Meningitis Association (NMA). (n.d.-a). Serogroup b meningococcal disease. NMA.

National Meningitis Association (NMA). (n.d.-b). Statistics and disease facts. NMA.

Ritscher, A.M., Ranum, N., Malak, J.D., Ahrabi-Fard, S., Baird, J., Berti, A.D., Curtis, W., Holden, M., Jones, C.D., Kind, J., Kinsey, W., Koepke, R., Schauer, S.L., Stein, E., Orman, S.V., Ward, B.G., Zahner, S.J., & Hayney, M.S. (2019). Meningococcal serogroup B outbreak response University of Wisconsin-Madison. Journal of American College Health, 67(3), 191-196.

Washington State Department of Health [WSDOH]. (n.d.-a). Meningitis. WSDOH.

Washington State Department of Health [WSDOH]. (n.d.-c). Washington state’s meningococcal education mandate. WSDOH.


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