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Cancer Control Research

5R03CA119686-02
Tercyak, Kenneth P.
A TELEPHONE-BASED CANCER EDUCATION & PREVENTION INTERVENTION FOR TEENS

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are leading causes of death in the US, with breast and cervical cancer among the most common cancers affecting young women and testicular cancer affecting young men. When actual causes of death are examined, tobacco use, poor diet/physical inactivity, overweight, and alcohol consumption top the list of lifestyle and behavioral cancer and chronic disease risk factors. These risk factors originate during childhood, when stable, lifelong habits of smoking, eating, drinking, and exercise are formed and track into adulthood. Given that cancer and many chronic diseases are proposed to begin developing in early life, it is important that preventable risk factors be reduced at a very early age. This is especially true in light of a positive family history of cancer or chronic disease, and must take into account the unique biological, behavioral, and social aspects of child and adolescent development. Unfortunately, most teens do not receive age-appropriate information about behavior-cancer/heart disease/diabetes relationships despite high rates of pediatric service utilization and professional recommendations to address cancer and chronic disease prevention strategies with teens during preventive medicine and gynecology visits. As part of our research, we have educated and counseled special populations about ways to prevent and reduce their lifestyle- and behavior-related cancer risks. These interventions have been delivered in-person in high risk medical contexts. We have not yet made efforts to reach out to teens, to do so in a preventive medicine context, addressing multiple behavioral risks, or utilizing alternate modes of intervention delivery (such as the telephone) that might have greater reach. In light of the importance of reducing behavioral risk factors for cancer early in life, the proposed project seeks to investigate whether cancer-relevant cognitive and behavioral outcomes among teenagers can be favorably impacted by providing a telephone-based cancer prevention intervention in addition to standard preventive medical care. We hypothesize that teens allocated to receive telephone-based education and counseling will achieve increased understanding of cancer and modifiable and unmodifiable cancer risk factors. We also anticipate that the telephone-based intervention will promote family health history taking, intentions/motivation to adopt, and the adoption of protective health behaviors. This study will make significant contributions toward proving that cancer-relevant cognitive and behavioral outcomes among teenagers can be favorably impacted by providing them with telephone counseling as an adjunct to education and standard care. Additionally, this study will lay the foundation for future, larger studies of intervention effectiveness, reach, and impact in this population.


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