Predictors of health-harming and health-protective behaviors in adolescents with cancer

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BackgroundGiven adolescent cancer survivors' increased susceptibility to late effects, it is imperative that we understand factors that influence their engagement in healthy and unhealthy behaviors. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify significant predictors of health-harming and health-protective behaviors in adolescent cancer patients.ProcedureForty-two adolescents (ages 12–19 years) currently on-treatment for cancer and their parents were recruited from outpatient pediatric cancer clinics. Adolescents completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed their health-behaviors, quality of life, and psychological distress, while parents completed a demographic questionnaire.ResultsRegression analyses indicated that specific demographic, illness, and psychosocial variables significantly predicted health-harming and health-protective behaviors. Older adolescent age and unmarried parent status emerged as the best predictors of adolescent health-harming behaviors, whereas married parent status, increased adolescent time since diagnosis, increased adolescent-rated quality of life, and increased distress emerged as the best predictors of health-protective behaviors.ConclusionsDemographic, illness, and psychosocial variables may help inform the development of interventions designed to promote the initiation and/or maintenance of good health practices among adolescents on-treatment for cancer. Interventions are needed that target health behaviors while adolescents are approaching treatment completion, in order to help facilitate the practice of good health practices in survivorship. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2008;51:525–530. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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