The truth-telling issue and changes in lifestyle in patients with cancer

Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (12):693-697 (2006)
Abstract
Objective: To compare the attitudes of patients with cancer toward making changes in lifestyle, according to their awareness of the diagnosis.Method: Personal interviews with 50 patients with breast cancer, 24 patients with prostate cancer and 50 patients with colorectal cancer were conducted in a cancer hospital in Athens, Greece.Analysis: Multiple logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds ratio as a measure of the association of the characteristics of participants with changes in lifestyle.Results: Overall, 22.6% of the patients were not aware of the diagnosis. Among the changes in lifestyle, 41.1% reported changing their diet to a healthier one, 22.6% of the smokers reduced or stopped smoking and 13.7% added new physical activity. Compared with uninformed patients, those who were aware of the diagnosis, after adjusting for the confounding effect of educational status , were 2.5 times as likely to make dietary changes . Among the other characteristics under study, older patients were less likely to add new physical activity than younger ones , and newly diagnosed patients were more likely to stop or reduce smoking than patients with a diagnosis made more than 12 months previously.Conclusion: Patients with cancer are motivated to attempt changes in lifestyle and can benefit from more factual information about the diagnosis
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