Health-related behavior change after cancer: results of the American Cancer Society’s studies of cancer survivors (SCS)
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- Hawkins, N.A., Smith, T., Zhao, L. et al. J Cancer Surviv (2010) 4: 20. doi:10.1007/s11764-009-0104-3
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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.
We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of 7,903 cancer survivors at 3, 6, and 11 years after diagnosis.
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.
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.