Assessing the Relationship Between Implicit and Explicit Evaluations of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Cancer Survivors

Int J Behav Med. 2019 Aug;26(4):365-371. doi: 10.1007/s12529-019-09792-5.


Background: Currently, little is known about the implicit evaluations that cancer survivors have for health behaviors, such as eating fruits and vegetables. Understanding both the implicit and explicit evaluations of fruit and vegetable consumption among cancer survivors may aid future interventions for changing motivations and intentions in this higher risk population.

Methods: A cross-sectional study at a university cancer center assessed explicit and implicit evaluations of fruit and vegetable consumption among 122 cancer survivors. The explicit evaluations regarding fruit and vegetable consumption were self-report data. To obtain implicit evaluations, participants completed an implicit evaluation task, the Affect Misattribution Paradigm. Moderating variables of time since first cancer treatment and if participants had a prior cancer occurrence were also self-reported.

Results: Simple correlations found no significant association between the implicit and explicit evaluations of fruit and vegetable consumption. Moderation regression analyses showed that the implicit and explicit evaluations became negatively associated as time since first treatment increased and when participants had a prior cancer occurrence.

Conclusion: The results support the view that implicit and explicit measures of fruit and vegetable consumption diverge for cancer survivors, consistent to implicit and explicit evaluations in other domains and samples. Further, the association between these evaluations differed depending on time since first treatment and if they have been treated for a prior cancer occurrence. By knowing more about implicit and explicit positive evaluations, and their moderators, it may be possible for interventionists to alter cancer survivors' motivation and intention to eat fruits and vegetables.

Keywords: Cancer survivors; Cognitive beliefs; Eating behavior; Implicit; Nutrition; Oncology.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Cancer Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult