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Provider discussion about lifestyle by cancer history: A nationally representative survey

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Background: Providers are uniquely positioned to encourage health-promoting behaviors, particularly among cancer survivors where patients develop trust in providers. Methods: We utilized the National Health Interview Survey to identify adults who reported a visit to a provider in the prior year (44,385 individuals with no cancer history and 4,792 cancer survivors), and reported prevalence of provider discussions on weight loss, physical activity, diet, and smoking. We used generalized linear mixed models to examine predicted prevalence of provider lifestyle discussions by cancer history overall, and among those who do not meet body mass index (BMI), activity, or smoking guidelines. Results: Among those with a BMI of 25-<60 kg/m2, 9.2% of those with a cancer history and 11.6% of those without a cancer history reported being told to participate in a weight loss program (P < 0.001). Overall, 31.7% of cancer survivors and 35.3%of those with no cancer history were told to increase their physical activity (P < 0.001). Only 27.6% of cancer survivors and 32.2% of those with no cancer history reported having a general discussion of diet (P < 0.001). Among smokers, 67.3% of cancer survivors and 69.9% of those with no cancer history reported counseling on smoking (P = 0.309). Conclusions: Fewer cancer survivors, who are at increased risk for health complications, are reporting provider discussions about critical lifestyle issues than those with no cancer history. Impact: Our nationally representative results suggest that providers are missing an opportunity for influencing patient lifestyle factors, which could lead to mitigation of late and long-term effects of treatment.




Arem, H., Duan, X., Ehlers, D. K., Lyon, M. E., Rowland, J. H., & Mama, S. K. (2021). Provider discussion about lifestyle by cancer history: A nationally representative survey. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 30(2), 278–285.

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