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Health behavior profiles in young survivors of childhood cancer: Findings from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study.

Cancer 2023 March 22
BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding of associations between a combination of health behaviors (physical activity, sedentary/screen-time, diet) and cardiometabolic health risk factors, physical performance, and emotional health among young (<18) childhood cancer survivors (CCS). The aims of this research were to address this gap by 1) deriving health behavior adherence profiles among CCS, and 2) examining associations among demographic, diagnosis and/or treatment exposures, cardiometabolic, physical performance, and emotional functioning with health behavior profile membership.

METHODS: Participants included 397 CCS (≥5 years post-diagnosis; 10-17 years old) enrolled in the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study who completed physical health evaluations and questionnaires assessing health behaviors and psychological functioning. Latent profile analysis was used to derive profiles of health behavior adherence. Logistic regression and t-tests were used to examine mean-level differences and associations between profile membership with demographic, diagnosis, treatment exposures, cardiometabolic health, psychological functioning, and physical performance.

RESULTS: Two profiles emerged: inactive-unhealthy-diet ("IU") and active-sedentary-unhealthy-diet ("ASU") to guidelines. More participants in IU demonstrated higher resting heart rate (mean [M], 76.54; SD = 12.00) and lower motor proficiency scores (M = 34.73; SD = 29.15) compared to ASU (resting heart rate, M = 71.95, SD = 10.74; motor proficiency, M = 50.40, SD = 31.02).

CONCLUSIONS: CCS exhibited low adherence to multiple health behavior guidelines, with adherence patterns differentially associated with cardiometabolic health (i.e., resting heart rate) and physical performance. However, robust protection against all health variables was not observed. Findings suggest interventions designed to improve health outcomes should target multiple health behaviors simultaneously.

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: Pediatric cancer survivors are at-risk for detrimental health outcomes associated with cancer and treatment. Engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviors serves to reduce health vulnerabilities among adult survivors but less is known about associations with lifestyle behaviors on young survivors. This study documents patterns of lifestyle behaviors among survivors of pediatric cancer, factors that increase susceptibility to nonadherence, and associations among lifestyle behaviors and health indicators.

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