Positive health-related behaviors are essential for the future wellbeing of childhood cancer survivors, though relatively few maintain healthy behaviors into adulthood.
Neurocognitive function and emotional distress were examined in 6,440 adult survivors from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, and used to predict rates of expected health-related behaviors. Covariates included cancer diagnosis, age, sex, body mass index, insurance status, income, and antidepressant medication use, and multivariable models were constructed adjusting for these factors.
In multivariable regression models, survivors with neurocognitive problems in task efficiency (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.72–0.84) were less likely to meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for weekly physical activity. Survivors with neurocognitive impairment were more likely to engage in general survivor care (RR=1.20, 95% CI=1.10–1.30), and less likely to engage in dental care (RR=0.92, 95% CI=0.88–0.97). Obese survivors were less likely to report receiving a bone density exam (RR=0.67, 95% CI=0.54–0.82), a mammogram (RR=0.71, 95% CI=0.57–0.89), and a skin exam (RR=0.78, 95% CI = 0.68–0.89). Survivors reporting somatization, i.e. vague physical symptoms associated with anxiety, were more likely to report receiving echocardiograms (RR=1.53, 95% CI = 1.32–1.77).
These results support the link between neurocognitive and emotional problems and health-related behaviors in adult survivors of childhood cancer. Monitoring neurocognitive and emotional outcomes may help to identify survivors at risk for poor adherence to prescribed health behaviors and health screening exams.