Coping after cancer: risk perceptions, worry, and health behaviors among colorectal cancer survivors

Psychooncology. 2004 Jun;13(6):367-76. doi: 10.1002/pon.751.


This study asks whether the experience of cancer motivates healthy behavior change. Further, we asked whether such changes relate to risk perceptions and worry, as suggested by Leventhal's Parallel Processing Model. Male (n=41) and female (n=40) survivors of colorectal cancer were interviewed 1-14 years after they first completed treatment. Younger age was associated with stronger risk perceptions, more worry, and greater anxiety. Shorter-term, compared to longer-term survivors, reported higher risk perceptions and more frequent intrusive thoughts. Greater perceived risk, worry and anxiety correlated positively with intentions to make positive health behavior changes. Overall, these survivors did not report exaggerated risk perceptions, and they were not overly worried or anxious about cancer recurrence. However, low-level risk perceptions, worry, and anxiety motivated interest in adopting protective health behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data