Smoking and Drinking Behavior in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer: Effects of Behavioral Self-Blame and Perceived Control

J Behav Med. 1999 Oct;22(5):407-18. doi: 10.1023/a:1018669222706.


Patients who continue to use tobacco or alcohol following treatment for head and neck cancers are at greater risk for cancer recurrence and mortality. The present study examined the effects of behavioral self-blame and perceived control over health on smoking and alcohol use in a sample of 55 patients with cancers of the head and neck. Measures of self-blame, perceived control, and depression were administered and an assessment of past and current smoking and drinking behavior was obtained. As anticipated, continued smoking after completion of oncologic treatment was predicted by the interaction of behavior specific self-blame and perceived control. Patients who attributed the cause of their cancer to their past substance use exhibited a lower likelihood of smoking only if they also held the expectancy that their future cancer-related health was contingent on their own behavior. Among patients not holding the belief that cancer recurrence was contingent on their own actions, self-blame was associated with a higher probability of continued smoking. Self-blame and perceived control had no effect on continued alcohol use.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Self Concept*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention