Making lifestyle changes after colorectal cancer: insights for program development

D.L. Dennis, J.L. Waring, N. Payeur, C. Cosby, H. Daudt



Healthy lifestyle behaviours may improve outcomes for people with colorectal cancer (crc), but the intention to take action and to change those behaviours may vary with time and resource availability. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of current lifestyle behaviours in people with and without crc in our community, and to identify their desire to change and their resource preferences.


A mixed-methods survey was completed by people diagnosed with crc who were pre-treatment (n = 54), undergoing treatment (n = 62), or done with treatment for less than 6 months (n = 67) or for more than 6 months (n = 178), and by people without cancer (n = 83).


Current lifestyle behaviours were similar in all groups, with the exception of vigorous physical activity levels, which were significantly lower in the pre-treatment and ongoing treatment respondents than in cancer-free respondents. Significantly more crc respondents than respondents without cancer had made lifestyle changes. Among the crc respondents, dietary change was the change most frequently made (39.3%), and increased physical activity was the change most frequently desired (39.1%). Respondents wanted to use complementary and alternative medicine (cam), reading materials, self-efficacy, and group activities to make future changes.


Resources for lifestyle change should be made available for people diagnosed with crc, and should be tailored to address physical activity, CAM, and diet. Lifestyle programs offered throughout the cancer trajectory and beyond treatment completion might be well received by people with CRC.


Colorectal cancer; lifestyle support; lifestyle resources; health behaviours; mixed-methods

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)