Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 20–32

Health-related behavior change after cancer: results of the American Cancer Society’s studies of cancer survivors (SCS)

  • Nikki A. Hawkins
  • Tenbroeck Smith
  • Luhua Zhao
  • Juan Rodriguez
  • Zahava Berkowitz
  • Kevin D. Stein
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11764-009-0104-3

Cite this article as:
Hawkins, N.A., Smith, T., Zhao, L. et al. J Cancer Surviv (2010) 4: 20. doi:10.1007/s11764-009-0104-3

Abstract

Introduction

Cancer survivors are known to make positive health-related behavior changes after cancer, but less is known about negative behavior changes and correlates of behavior change. The present study was undertaken to examine positive and negative behavior changes after cancer and to identify medical, demographic, and psychosocial correlates of changes.

Methods

We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of 7,903 cancer survivors at 3, 6, and 11 years after diagnosis.

Results

Of 15 behaviors assessed, survivors reported 4 positive and 1 or 0 negative behavior changes. Positive change correlated with younger age, greater education, breast cancer, longer time since diagnosis, comorbidities, vitality, fear of recurrence, and spiritual well-being, while negative change correlated with younger age, being non-Hispanic African American, being widowed, divorced or separated, and lower physical and emotional health. Faith mediated the relationship between race/ethnicity and positive change.

Conclusions

Cancer survivors were more likely to make positive than negative behavior changes after cancer. Demographic, medical, and psychosocial variables were associated with both types of changes.

Implications for cancer survivors

Results provide direction for behavior interventions and illustrate the importance of looking beyond medical and demographic variables to understand the motivators and barriers to positive behavior change after cancer.

Keywords

Cancer survivorsHealth behaviorBehavior changeSpiritual well-being

Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki A. Hawkins
    • 1
  • Tenbroeck Smith
    • 2
  • Luhua Zhao
    • 2
  • Juan Rodriguez
    • 1
  • Zahava Berkowitz
    • 1
  • Kevin D. Stein
    • 2
  1. 1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.American Cancer SocietyBehavioral Research CenterAtlantaUSA