Are long-term cancer survivors and physicians discussing health promotion and healthy behaviors?
This study aimed to (1) describe the proportion of survivors reporting that a physician discussed strategies to improve health and (2) identify which groups are more likely to report these discussions.
Lung cancer and colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors (>5 years from diagnosis) (n = 874) completed questionnaires, including questions on whether, in the previous year, a physician discussed (1) strategies to improve health, (2) exercise, and (3) diet habits. Chi-square tests and logistic regression models were used to examine whether the likelihood of these discussions varied by demographic and clinical characteristics.
Fifty-nine percent reported that a physician discussed strategies to improve health and exercise, 44 % reported discussions on diet, and 24 % reported no discussions. Compared to their counterparts, survivors with lower education were less likely to report discussing all three areas, but survivors with diabetes were more likely. Survivors ≥65 years old were less likely to report discussing strategies to improve health and diet. Males and CRC survivors reported discussing diet more than their female and lung cancer counterparts, respectively.
The frequency of health promotion discussions varied across survivor characteristics. Discussions were more frequently reported by some groups, e.g., survivors with diabetes, or among individuals less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. In contrast, males and older and less educated survivors were less likely to have these discussions.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
Decreasing physician barriers and encouraging patients to discuss health promotion, especially in the context of clinical care for older survivors and those with low education, is essential for promoting the overall well-being of cancer survivors.