Shared health characteristics in Hispanic colorectal cancer patients and their primary social support person following primary diagnosis

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The aim of this paper was to determine individual and shared levels of psychosocial, behavioral, and symptomological health characteristics among Hispanics with recent history of cancer and their primary social support person (PSSP) in the years following diagnosis.

Patients and Methods

Recruited from a population-based cohort study were 409 Hispanic patients with a previous diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Forty-seven patients identified a PSSP, who assists with medical decision-making and health-related matters, who also participated in the study. Current behavioral (smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, and complementary and alternative medicine use), psychosocial (stress and mindfulness), and physical symptom (fatigue) data were obtained using validated instruments. Analyses tested the individual and shared (between patients and PSSPs) variance in these health measures.


The sample was diagnosed on average 3.1 years (standard deviation = 1.7) prior to assessment. PSSPs were mainly spouses/partners (63%) or children (28%) of patients. Among patients, stress was positively associated with being a current smoker (p < 0.01) and with fatigue (r = 0.45, p < 0.001); stress was negatively correlated with mindfulness (r = −0.41, p < 0.001); mindfulness was negatively associated with smoking (odds ratio (OR) = 0.72, p < 0.01) and alcohol consumption (OR = 0.83, p < 0.05); the inverse relationship between mindfulness and fatigue was partially mediated through lower levels of stress (β = −0.17, p < 0.001). Similar patterns were observed among PSSPs. Patient mindfulness was negatively correlated with PSSP stress (r = −0.45, p < 0.01). Complementary and alternative medicine use showed interdependence between patients and PSSPs for use of herbal remedies (OR = 6.2; p < 0.01) and bodywork (OR = 8.3, p < 0.05).


Hispanic colorectal cancer patients and their PSSP share a common health milieu in the years following a cancer diagnosis, offering opportunities for advancing interpersonal intervention approaches in cancer care. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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