Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 621–630

The impact of a cancer diagnosis on the health behaviors of cancer survivors and their family and friends

  • Nancy Humpel
  • Christopher Magee
  • Sandra C. Jones
Original Article

Abstract

Goals

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of a cancer diagnosis on the health behaviors of cancer survivors and their family and friends, and to determine whether a cancer diagnosis could be a teachable moment for intervention.

Materials and methods

This was a cross-sectional study of the health behaviors of individuals taking part in a cancer fundraising event. The questionnaire was completed by 657 participants.

Main results

Participants were 81.4% women, had a mean age of 46 years, and comprised of 17.2% cancer survivors. For cancer survivors, 31.3% reported an increase in physical activity, 50% of smokers quit, and 59 to 72% reported dietary improvements within 1 month of diagnosis. Significant differences in behavior change were found by age, but not by gender or education. For individuals without cancer, 24.3% reported improved physical activity and the majority reported some dietary changes. A greater proportion of family and friends who perceived they were at greater risk of developing cancer increased physical activity and sun-smart behavior but did not improve dietary habits.

Conclusions

The results indicate that the cancer survivors made significantly more positive health behavior changes compared to the non-cancer group. For this sample, a personal diagnosis of cancer, or a diagnosis in a family member or friend, may have acted as a ‘cue to action’ to improve lifestyle health behaviors. This field of research is still at an early stage, and further studies are needed to confirm if this situation could be useful as a ‘teachable moment’ for intervention purposes.

Keywords

Cancer Physical activity Exercise Diet Health behavior 

References

  1. 1.
    American Cancer Society (2004) Cancer facts and figures. http://www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/CAFF_finalPWSecured.pdf
  2. 2.
    Andrykowski M, Beacham A, Schmidt J, Harper K (2006) Application of the theory of planned behavior to understand intentions to engage in physical and psychosocial health behaviors after cancer diagnosis. Psycho-Oncol 15:759–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Armstrong T, Bauman A, Davies J (2000) Physical activity patterns of Australian adults. Results of the 1999 National Physical Activity Survey. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Audrain J, Schwartz M, Herrera J, Goldman P, Bush A (2001) Physical activity in first-degree relatives of breast cancer patients. J Behav Med 24:587–603PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2004) National Cancer Statistics Clearing House. http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/ncsch/index.html
  6. 6.
    Baade PD, Fritschi L, Eakin EG (2006) Non-cancer mortality among people diagnosed with cancer. Cancer Causes Control 17(3):287–297PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Baker F, Denniston M, Smith T, West M (2005) Adult cancer survivors: how are they faring? Cancer 104:2565–2576PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bellizzi KM, Rowland JH, Jeffery DD, McNeel T (2005) Health behaviors of cancer survivors: examining opportunities for cancer control intervention. J Clin Oncol 23:8884–8893PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Blanchard C, Denniston M, Baker F, Ainsworth S, Courneya K, Hann D, Gesme D et al (2003) Do adults change their lifestyle behaviors after a cancer diagnosis? Am J Health Behav 27:246–256PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Booth ML, Owen N, Bauman A, Gore CJ (1996) Relationship between a 14-day recall measure of leisure time physical activity and a submaximal test of physical work capacity in a population sample of Australian adults. Res Q Exerc Sport 67:221–227PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Booth ML, Owen N, Bauman A, Gore CJ (1996) Retest reliability of recall measures of leisure-time physical activity in Australian adults. Int J Epidemiol 25:153–159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (1999) National physical activity guidelines for Australians. Australian Government Publishing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Coups E, Ostroff J (2005) A population-based estimate of the prevalence of behavioral risk factors among adult cancer survivors and noncancer controls. Prev Med 40:702–711PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Courneya K (2003) Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:1846–1852PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Courneya K, Friedenreich C (1997) Relationship between exercise pattern across the cancer experience and current quality of life in colorectal cancer survivors. J Altern Complement Med 3:215–266PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Deimling GT, Kahana B, Bowman KF, Schaefer ML (2002) Cancer survivorship and psychological distress in later life. Psycho-Oncol 11:479–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Demark-Wahnefried W, Aziz N, Rowland JH, Pinto B (2005) Riding the crest of the teachable moment: promoting long-term health after the diagnosis of cancer. J Clin Oncol 23:5814–5830PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Demark-Wahnefried W, Peterson B, McBride C, Lipkus I, Clipp E (2000) Current health behaviors and readiness to pursue life-style changes among men and women diagnosed with early stage prostate and breast carcinomas. Cancer 88:674–684PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dimeo F, Stieglitz R, Novelli-Fischer U, Keul J (1999) Effects of physical activity on the fatigue and psychological status of cancer patients during chemotherapy. Cancer 85:2273–2277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hervouet S, Savard J, Simard S, Ivers H, Laverdiere J, Vigneault E, Fradet Y, Lacombe L (2005) Psychological functioning associated with prostate cancer: cross-sectional comparison of patients treated with radiotherapy, brachytherapy, or surgery. J Pain Symptom Manage 30:474–484PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hewitt M, Rowland JH, Yancik R (2003) Cancer survivors in the United States: age, health, and disability. J Gerontol 58A:82–91Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hickok JT, Morrow GR, Roscoe JA, Mustian K, Okunieff P (2005) Occurrence, severity, and longitudinal course of twelve common symptoms in 1129 consecutive patients during radiotherapy for cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage 30:433–442PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Janz N, Champion V, Strecher V (2002) The health belief model. In: Glanz K, Rimer B, Lewis F (eds) Health behavior and health education: theory, research, and practice, 3rd edn. Jossey–Bass, San Francisco, pp 45–66Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kristeller J, Hebert J, Edmiston K, Liepman M, Wertheimer M, Ward A, Luippold R (1996) Attitudes toward risk factor behavior of relatives of cancer patients. Prev Med 25:162–169PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lemon SC, Zapka JG, Clemow L (2004) Health behavior change among women with recent familial diagnosis of breast cancer. Prev Med 39:253–262PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    MacVicar M, Winningham M, Nickel J (1989) Effects of aerobic interval training on cancer patients’ functional capacity. Nurs Res 38:251–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Madlensky L, Vierkant RA, Vachon CM, Pankratz VS, Cerhan JR, Vadaparampil ST, Sellers TA (2005) Preventive health behaviors and familial breast cancer DOI 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-05-0254. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark 14:2340–2345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Maunsell E, Drolet M, Brisson J, Robert J, Deschenes L (2002) Dietary change after breast cancer: extent, predictors, and relation with psychological distress. J Clin Oncol 20:1017–1025PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    McBride C, Emmons K, Lipkus I (2003) Understanding the potential of teachable moments: the case of smoking cessation. Health Educ Res 18:156–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    McKee J (1994) Cues to action in prostate cancer screening. Oncol Nurs Forum 21:1171–1176PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Mock V, Hassey Dow K, Meares C, Grimm P, Dienemann J, Haisfield-Wolfe M, Quitasol W et al (1997) Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer. Oncol Nurs Forum 24:991–1000PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mock V, Pickett M, Ropka M, Lin E, Stewart K, Rhodes V et al (2001) Fatigue and quality of life outcomes of exercise during cancer treatment. Cancer Pract 9:119–127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Oldervoll LM, Kaasa S, Hjermstad MJ, Lund JA, Loge JH (2004) Physical exercise results in the improved subjective well-being of a few or is effective rehabilitation for all cancer patients? Eur J Cancer 40:951–962PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Patterson RE, Neuhouser ML, Hedderson MM, Schwartz SM, Standish LJ, Bowen DJ (2003) Changes in diet, physical activity, and supplement use among adults diagnosed with cancer. J Am Diet Assoc 103:323–328PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Pinto B, Clark M, Maruyama N, Feder S (2003) Psychological and fitness changes associated with exercise participation among women with breast cancer. Psycho-Oncol 12:118–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Pinto B, Eakin E, Marumaya N (2000) Health behavior changes after a cancer diagnosis: what do we know and where do we go from here? Ann Behav Med 22:38–52PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pinto B, Maruyama N, Clark M, Cruess D, Park E, Roberts M (2002) Motivation to modify lifestyle risk behaviors in women treated for breast cancer. Mayo Clin Proc 77:122–129PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Pinto B, Trunzo J (2005) Health behaviors during and after a cancer diagnosis. Cancer 104:2614–2623PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Pinto B, Trunzo J, Reiss P, Shui S (2002) Exercise participation after diagnosis of breast cancer: trends and effects on mood and quality of life. Psycho-Oncol 11:389–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Rabin C, Pinto B (2006) Cancer-related beliefs and health behavior change among breast cancer survivors and their first-degree relatives. Psycho-Oncol 15:701–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Raison CL, Miller AH (2003) Depression in cancer: new developments regarding diagnosis and treatment. Biol Psychiatry 54:283–294PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Satia J, Campbell M, Galanko J, James A, Carr C, Sandler R (2004) Longitudinal changes in lifestyle behaviors and health status in colon cancer survivors. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark 13:1022–1031Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Schwartz M, Lerman C, Miller S, Daly M, Mansy A (1995) Coping disposition, perceived risk, and psychological distress among women at increased risk for ovarian cancer. Health Psychol 14:232–235PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Tracey E, Roder D, Bishop J, Chen S, Chen W (2005) Cancer in New South Wales: incidence and mortality 2003. NSW Cancer Institute, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    USDHHS (1996) Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, AtlantaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Humpel
    • 1
  • Christopher Magee
    • 2
  • Sandra C. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Health Behaviour and Communication Research, Faculty of Health and Behavioural SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Behavioural SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Personalised recommendations