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Keywords:

  • long-term survival;
  • psychology;
  • psychosocial health behaviors;
  • survivorship

Abstract

Background

This study compares young adult survivors of childhood cancer (YASCC) and young adults without a history of serious illness/injury on physical activity levels and examines psychological predictors of physical activity in survivors over a 2-month period.

Procedure

YASCC participants (n = 117) and healthy controls (n = 148), ages 18–30, recruited during cancer survivorship clinic or primary care clinics completed self-report measures of physical activity, health problems, psychological distress, and health beliefs (Health Perceptions, Satisfaction with Healthcare, Cognitive Competence, and Autonomy). Survivorship providers completed ratings of health problems and treatment intensity for survivors.

Results

Survivors had significantly lower levels of physical activity than controls. Family income, survivor-reported health problems and less positive health beliefs were associated with lower rates of physical activity. Provider-reported survivor health problems and ratings of cancer treatment intensity were not related to survivor physical activity. Less positive survivor beliefs about their cognitive competence predicted survivor physical activity 2 months later after accounting for other pertinent demographic, medical and psychological variables.

Conclusions

YASCC were significantly less active than healthy controls. YASCC with more self-identified health problems and negative beliefs about their cognitive competence were less physically active. Beliefs about their health and cognitive competencies may be viable areas for assessment and intervention in order to promote increased engagement in physical activity. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2013;60:309–315. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.