Healthy lifestyle discussions between healthcare providers and older cancer survivors: Data from 12 cancer centers in the Southeastern United States

Academic Article


  • Background: Little is known about the prevalence of healthy lifestyle (HLS) discussions between providers and older cancer survivors. Methods: We utilized cross-sectional data from older cancer survivors (≥65 years) seen at 12 southeastern cancer centers during 2013-2015. Data on demographics, time since diagnosis, weight, height, and healthy behaviors were collected. Respondents were asked if providers (oncologists, other physicians, and/or nurses) discussed exercise, healthy diet, weight management, and/or smoking cessation during clinical encounters. Descriptive statistics and bivariate associations between HLS topics and survivor characteristics were calculated. Results: Among 1460 cancer survivors, mean age was 74 years (SD 6), most were white (81%), and >1 year postdiagnosis (84%). The majority (71%) reported discussing at least one of three HLS topics (exercise 49%, healthy diet 53%, vegetable consumption 28%); 17% received counseling on all three. Weight loss was recommended to 33% of overweight/obese survivors and smoking cessation to 85% of current smokers. Oncologists and nurses discussed HLS less frequently compared to other physicians. Younger survivors (65-74 years) received recommendations for exercise, weight loss, and tobacco cessation more often than older survivors (≥75 years). Compared to white respondents, minorities reported discussions on all topics more often except for tobacco cessation. Excluding tobacco cessation, survivors with recent cancer diagnoses (<1 year) reported HLS discussions more often than survivors >1 year postdiagnosis. Conclusion: Despite the American Cancer Society's recommendations, older survivors reported a low prevalence of HLS discussions with their providers, with some variation by demographic groups. Strategies are needed to promote these important discussions in this population.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Medicine  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Halilova KI; Pisu M; Azuero A; Williams CP; Kenzik KM; Williams GR; Rocque GB; Martin MY; Kvale EA; Demark-Wahnefried W
  • Start Page

  • 7123
  • End Page

  • 7132
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 16