Adding COVID to Cancer: Does Cancer Status Influence COVID-19 Infection Preventive Behaviors?


Preventive Behaviors
cancer survivors
health belief model


A better understanding of how to promote disease mitigation and prevention behaviors among vulnerable populations, such as cancer survivors, is needed. This study aimed to determine patterns of and factors associated with COVID-19-related preventive behaviors among cancer survivors and assess whether the COVID-19 preventive behaviors of cancer survivors differ from the general population.
In June 2020, an online survey of adults (N=897) assessed predictors of COVID-19-related preventive behaviors, including socio-demographics, COVID-19 beliefs and perceptions (Health Belief Model [HBM] variables), and cancer statuses (cancer survivors currently in treatment, cancer survivors not currently in treatment, and individuals with no history of cancer). An average score of respondent engagement in eight preventive behaviors was calculated. Differences in HBM variables and preventive behaviors by cancer status were assessed using ANCOVAs. Hierarchical multiple regression analyzed associations among socio-demographics, HBM constructs, cancer statuses, and engagement in COVID-19 preventive behaviors.
Participants reported engaging in 3.5 (SD=0.6) preventive behaviors. Cancer survivors not in treatment engaged in preventive behaviors significantly less than the comparison group. In the final adjusted model, after adding COVID-19 beliefs and perceptions, cancer status was no longer significant. All HBM constructs except perceived susceptibility were significant predictors of preventive behaviors.
COVID-19 beliefs and perceptions were more robust predictors preventive behaviors than cancer status. Nonetheless, public health organizations and practitioners should communicate the risk and severity of infection among cancer survivors and emphasize the need to engage in protective behaviors for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases with this vulnerable population.


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