Health-related behaviors of survivors of childhood cancer

Authors

  • Dr. Raymond K. Mulhern PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    • Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38101
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  • Vida L. Tyc PhD,

    1. Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Sean Phipps PhD,

    1. Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Deborah Crom MD,

    1. Department of Hematology/Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Deborah Barclay PhD,

    1. Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Carol Greenwald MD,

    1. Department of Radiation Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Radiology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Melissa Hudson MD,

    1. Department of Hematology/Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Elizabeth I. Thompson MD

    1. Department of Hematology/Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
    2. Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee
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Abstract

The health-related beliefs and behaviors of long-term survivors of childhood cancer are important because of vulnerability to adverse late effects from their primary malignancy and its therapy. A health behavior survey was completed by 110 parents of long-term survivors ranging in age from 11–17 years, and by 40 adult long-term survivors of childhood cancer ranging in age from 18–29 years. The survey included questions on the former patient's frequency of alcohol and tobacco use, as well as diet, exercise, sleep, dental, and seatbelt habits. The reported prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use was less than 10% among those less than 18 years old. Among the adults, tobacco (17.5%) and alcohol (72.5%) use was greater, but problem drinking was infrequently reported. In order to assess their perceived vulnerability, we asked the parents and the young adult patients to rate the strength of their belief that it is more important for the patient to keep healthy compared to most other children or young adults. Contrary to our expectations, demographic factors such as the patient's gender, socioeconomic level, or time elapsed since completion of therapy exerted minimal influence on their responses. Over 80% of parents and 60% of young adult survivos believed that it was more important for the former patient to remain healthy compared to most other people. However, this shared belief in increased vulnerability was inconsistently expressed in the patient's health behaviors. These results suggest that specific changes are needed in the health assessment and education of long-term survivors of childhood cancer. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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