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Health-Promoting Behaviors of Low-Income Cancer Survivors

Meraviglia, Martha Gene PhD, RN, ACNS-BC; Stuifbergen, Alexa PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3182157786
Feature Articles

Purpose/Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the health-promoting (HP) behaviors of low-income cancer survivors before and after their diagnosis of cancer.

Design: This qualitative study used a purposive sampling strategy to identify low-income, ethnically diverse cancer survivors.

Setting: Participants were recruited from an urban outpatient cancer clinic serving only low-income clients.

Sample: Thirteen, ethnically diverse low-income cancer survivors participated in 60- to 90-minute interviews discussing their experience with HP behaviors before and after their diagnosis with cancer, their cancer experience, and their perspectives on being a cancer survivor.

Methods: Conventional content analysis of transcripts and field notes by 2 coders identified words, context, frequency, emphasis, and consistency of participants' comments. Statements were further examined to identify patterns and main themes and to interpret the meaning of what was said.

Findings: Participants described their use of various HP behaviors primarily walking, maintaining a positive mental attitude, and changing their diet. Participants discussed their perspectives on having a diagnosis of cancer as well as the meaning of being a cancer survivor. They described spiritual growth through prayer, renewing their faith, maintaining a hopeful outlook, and expressing thankfulness toward God. Participants expressed interested in learning about effective physical exercises, healthy eating, and stress management strategies.

Conclusions: Results suggest that low-income cancer survivors engage in various HP behaviors and want to learn more behaviors to use after cancer treatment.

Implications for Practice: Findings provide useful information for clinical nurse specialists when providing information about HP behaviors for use during and after cancer treatment as well as the meaning of cancer survivor for low-income cancer survivors.

Author Affiliations: Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing (Dr Meraviglia), Dean ad Interim (Dr Stuifbergen), School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin.

Any copyright transfer or other publication agreement allows the final peer-reviewed manuscript to be submitted to the National Institutes of Health in accordance with the Public Access Policy.

The project described was supported by grant R03CA117539 from the National Cancer Institute.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Correspondence: Martha Gene Meraviglia, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701 (mmeraviglia@mail.utexas.edu).

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.