Riscos & Desafios (Risk & Challenges) Program in pandemic times: the students’ voice

Maria Paula Santos, Gizela Cardoso, Paula Silva, Carla Rocha


Background: Preventive interventions are important to delay the onset of high-risk behaviors for young people's health. Regarding emerging adulthood, successful preventive programs are important to avoid high-risk alcohol consumption among university students. Riscos & Desafios (Risk & Challenges) Program is an extracurricular, comprehensive, and multi-component competence enhancement-based preventive intervention designed for students attending the first year of higher education.  

Goals: This paper aims to give voice to the procedural assessment made by students and to describe the implementation of the Program at the Faculty of Sport of the University of Porto in the second semester of the 2019/2020 school year. This implementation of a previous validated program was innovative twofold, since it has a curriculum infusion format through an optional curricular unit, and because it was developed during the period of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: This is a mixed-method study that focus on the implementation of the Riscos & Desafios Program during the second semester of 2019/20 academic year. This evaluation of the Riscos & Desafios Program was done with a post-program survey, followed by univariate analysis of frequency. Complementary, an inductive analysis of qualitative data of student’s reflexive reports was carried out, using the QSR-NVIVO 12®.

Results: Twenty-three first-year students who participated in the Riscos & Desafios Program constituted the target group of the intervention. Most of the participants were male (n=16) aging between 17 to 21 years. Most attended all the eight sessions and 96% of them participated in seven or more sessions. At the end of the implementation, 23 post-program filled-in questionnaires, and 18 structured reflection reports, were obtained. Most of the students rated the program as very good. Several categories emerged from the thematic analysis of the 18 reports, namely (1) perceived competencies, developed in the program, including the promotion of the social support network, interpersonal and communication skills, problem-solving skills, and their importance, as factors to protect against the development of risk behaviors, (2) personal positive impacts of the program attendance and (3) gains and losses with the transition to online learning format.

Discussion: Students’ considerations about the experience with the Riscos & Desafios Program not only reinforced the importance and pertinence of this experience in their life trajectory, but also brought to light its relevance at this pandemic moment.


Health promotion, Prevention program, Addictive behavior, Higher education, Curriculum infusion, Emerging adulthood

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33525/pprj.v6i2.103


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