Prevalence and correlates of healthy lifestyle behaviors among early cancer survivors

Iris M. Kanera*, Catherine A. W. Bolman, Ilse Mesters, Roy A. Willems, Audrey A. J. M. Beaulen, Lilian Lechner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Healthy lifestyle behaviors have been demonstrated to be beneficial for positive health outcomes and the quality of life in cancer survivors. However, adherence to recommendations is low. More insight is needed in factors that may explain engagement in lifestyle behaviors to develop effective cancer aftercare interventions. This study assessed different factors, namely socio-demographic, cancer-related, psychological, social cognitive factors (attitude, social support, self-efficacy) and intention, in relationship to five lifestyle behaviors (smoking, physical activity, alcohol, and fruit and vegetable consumption). Methods: Early survivors of various types of cancer were recruited from eighteen Dutch Hospitals (n = 255). Distal factors (socio-demographic, cancer related, psychological), proximal factors (social cognitive), intention and five lifestyle behaviors (smoking, physical activity, alcohol, fruit and vegetable consumption) were assessed through a self-reported questionnaire. Cross-sectional analyses (correlations and regression analyses) were conducted. Results: The lifestyle of a small group (11 %) of the cancer survivors was coherent with all five health recommendations, the majority (> 80 %) adhered to two, three of four recommendations, and only few (<7 %) adhered to one or none recommendation. The highest prevalence in followed recommendations have been detected in physical activity (87.4 %), refrain from smoking (82 %), and alcohol consumption (75.4 %). There was low adherence to the fruit recommendation (54.8 %) and to the vegetable recommendation (27.4 %). Only weak associations were found between the different behaviors. Each separate lifestyle behavior was influenced by different patterns of correlates. Self-efficacy, attitude, and intention were the strongest correlates in all examined behaviors, although with various contributions, while socio-demographic, cancer-related and psychological factors provided a much smaller contribution. Conclusions: Outcomes of engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviors were more positive in this study compared to other research in cancer survivors; however, there is room for improvements in adherence to all five lifestyle behaviors. Especially fruit consumption was poor and vegetable consumption even worse. Our findings emphasized that all examined lifestyle behaviors need to be encouraged, with taken into account that each lifestyle behavior may be influenced by a specific set of mainly social cognitive factors or intention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalBMC Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2016


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