A Qualitative Study of Knowledge of Metabolic Syndrome, Attitudes about Lifestyle Modifications, and Preferences for Lifestyle Interventions among Patients with Cancer and Metabolic Syndrome

Res Sq. 2023 Sep 4;rs.3.rs-3232672. doi: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-3232672/v1. Preprint


Background Nearly 60% of patients with cancer have metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of mortality, but there is no clear guidance for oncology providers about its management. Here, we report on the qualitative component of a larger mixed methods study that aimed to understand cancer patients' knowledge, attitudes, and preferences regarding metabolic syndrome. Methods Adult cancer patients with metabolic syndrome were recruited during 2022-2023 in the MD Anderson General Internal Medicine clinic and participated in semistructured interviews focused on metabolic syndrome and lifestyle interventions. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Participants' demographic information was collected. Interviews were analyzed using hybrid thematic analysis and constant comparison involving deductive and inductive coding. Researcher triangulation and debriefing were used to ensure rigor. Results There were 19 participants, 12 female and 12 White. Eighteen had solid tumors, including gynecologic (n = 5), genitourinary (n = 4), colorectal (n = 3), and breast (n = 2). Analysis yielded 5 major themes: 1) patients' understanding of metabolic syndrome; 2) attitudes about and approaches to managing metabolic syndrome; 3) capacity and limitations regarding managing metabolic syndrome; 4) patient-led care; and 5) tailored intervention plans. Participants had limited knowledge of metabolic syndrome and its cancer-related consequences; most desired additional education. Many participants reported that their cancer or diabetes diagnosis motivated them to prioritize lifestyle modifications. Participants expressed strong interest in personalized care plans focused on healthy lifestyle rather than simply weight loss. As part of their tailored intervention plans, participants desired clear communication with their medical team, coordination of care among team members, and collaboration with providers about treatment decisions. Conclusion Cancer patients with metabolic syndrome want collaborative, patient-centered care. Shared decision-making based on respect for patients' distinctive needs and preferences is an essential component of the development of such collaborative care. Tailored interventions, practical implementation strategies, and personalized care plans are needed for cancer patients with metabolic syndrome. The study findings contribute to filling the gap in knowledge regarding clear guidance for oncology providers on managing metabolic syndrome and will inform the development of future lifestyle interventions for patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

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