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Keywords:

  • childhood cancer;
  • multiple behavioral risk factors;
  • stress;
  • survivorship

Abstract

Background

Health-compromising behaviors among survivors of childhood cancer may increase their risks of cancer recurrence and the onset of chronic disease in adulthood. Regardless of whether such behaviors occur singly or in combination with one another, multiple behavioral risk factors must be identified and addressed early to promote better health outcomes within this special population. Adolescent survivors may be especially vulnerable, as reported rates of smoking and other risky behaviors are at or near levels of their healthy peers. The psychological literature suggests stress may play a role in risk behavior initiation and maintenance, including multiple behavioral risks, and that adolescent survivors are stress-prone. This report focuses on the prevalence and co-occurrence of three behavioral risk factors (cigarette use, insufficient physical activity, and non-adherence to sun protection recommendations) and describes stress-health behavior relationships in this special population.

Procedure

All patients in this study (n = 75) were adolescent survivors of childhood cancer and completed a baseline assessment of their health behaviors and stress as part of a randomized controlled trial of health promotion.

Results

Twenty-eight percent of the patients reported one of three risk factors, 12% reported two of three risk factors, and 7% reported all three risk factors. Non-adherence to sun protection was the single most common risk factor; physical inactivity and non-adherent sun protection were the most common co-occurring risk factors. Greater age and stress were significantly associated with the presence of more behavioral risk factors.

Conclusions

The evidence suggests interventions to reduce multiple health-compromising behaviors in these patients are warranted, and that efforts to address these patients' personal and family stress levels are important as well. Pediatric Blood Cancer 2006;47:825–830. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.