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Health Behaviors Among Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Kelly, Kimberly M. PhD; Bhattacharya, Rituparna MS; Dickinson, Stephanie MAS; Hazard, Hannah MD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000167
Articles: Online Only

Background: With improved treatments, the survival rate for breast cancer patients is increasing. With the improvements in quantity of life, research in the field of cancer survivorship has turned its attention to psychosocial functioning and health behaviors.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine how those currently under treatment and those completing treatment engaged in health behaviors (ie, diet, vitamin use, exercise, and cancer screening) and if psychosocial predictors, guided by the Self-regulation Model, also play a role.

Methods: Using the Self-regulation Model, the current survey and medical record review examined health behaviors (diet, vitamin use, exercise, cancer screening) in individuals in active treatment for breast cancer and in those completing treatment (n = 141).

Results: Regression models revealed that those in active treatment had less healthy food consumption, vitamin use, and clinical examinations than did treatment completers. Greater perceived treatment efficacy was associated with diet and vitamin use but not exercise or cancer screening. Greater perceived risk of recurrence was associated with less exercise. Greater distress was associated with greater mammography use. Those from metro areas had greater healthy food consumption.

Results: Qualitative data indicated that chemotherapy interfered with health behaviors for those in active treatment; treatment completers wished to have a healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion: Cancer treatment interferes with health behaviors, and these health behaviors might help individuals manage their cancer treatment more effectively.

Implications for Practice: Those currently undergoing treatment desire assistance with a healthier lifestyle, and relevant clinical interventions should stress treatment efficacy.

Author Affiliations: School of Pharmacy and Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown (Dr Kelly and Ms Bhattacharya); Department of Statistics, Indiana University, Bloomington (Ms Dickinson); Department of Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown (Dr Hazard).

Funding was provided by the Ohio Division of the American Cancer Society.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Kimberly M. Kelly, PhD, West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, PO Box 9510, Morgantown, WV 26506 (

Accepted for publication April 23, 2014.

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