Online Program

Role of family in the dietary behaviors of long-term cancer survivors

Monday, November 2, 2015

Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Ann C. Klassen, PhD, Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Kisha Coa, PhD, Science of Research and Technology Branch, Behavioral Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
Susan Hannum, PhD, Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Dara Stoney, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
There are more than 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S., approximately two-thirds of whom survive 5 or more years post-diagnosis.  Promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors has become critical given that cancer survivors face possible recurrence as well as heightened risks for new cancers and co-morbid conditions. Most cancer survivors do not meet dietary guidelines, and our research is intended to identify intervention opportunities to promote sustainable dietary change for cancer survivors where needed, and protect healthy diet where it already exists.

We present data from a thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with 53 individuals who had completed acute treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast and prostate cancer at least two years prior. Interviews explored participants’ understanding of current diet and yielded descriptions of changes undertaken alongside accounts of successes and explanations for setbacks. We present data on the role played by family members in shaping survivors’ diet. We argue that existing research has yet to adequately consider the familial context of dietary behaviors. Participants referenced their partners and adult children as motivators in making healthy choices following their cancer diagnosis, and described familial factors that hindered healthy eating. Interviewees referenced family members’ existing health conditions and dietary preferences as important contextual factors for their dietary behaviors.  Our data also serve as a reminder that food shopping, preparation and consumption are often collective experiences within a family, rather than behaviors independently undertaken by any one individual.  Future dietary interventions might best be targeted at the interpersonal level of the socioecological model.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the importance of lifestyle behaviors for healthy survivorship after cancer treatment Discuss how familial factors may be influential for effective health promotion for people with a cancer history Describe possible barriers and facilitators to healthy diet among long-term cancer survivors

Keyword(s): Cancer, Health Promotion and Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for the Eating for Life study being presented. I have published work in the area of social factors influencing behaviors related to cancer prevention for over 10 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.