Lifestyle changes after cancer treatment in patients and their partners: a qualitative study

Marrit Annika Tuinman*, Janine Nuver, Anke de Boer, Anne Looijmans, Mariët Hagedoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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PURPOSE: Oncologists nowadays promote healthy lifestyle choices more often, focusing on diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and sleep, but the question is whether this is enough to establish actual change. As patients will have to achieve a healthy lifestyle at home in daily life, it is important to understand barriers and facilitators for lifestyle change for both patients and their partners.

METHODS: A qualitative interview study was done among patients who received chemotherapy for testicular (n = 10) or breast cancer (n = 7) and their partners (n = 17). The interview focused on how much they remembered the lifestyle advice given in hospital, whether and what they had adapted since diagnosis, and what they deemed as facilitators and barriers in maintaining lifestyle change.

RESULTS: Results showed that many patients and partners recalled that some advice was given in hospital but experienced this as too general and only at the start of treatment. Social contacts and the entire cancer experience helped facilitate change but were also seen as barriers. Other barriers were not considering healthy behaviors a priority or experiencing unhealthy choices as something nice after a trying time.

CONCLUSIONS: Oncologists and hospitals that provide lifestyle advice should provide cancer- and person-specific lifestyle advice, should offer this advice repeatedly into survivorship, and include the partner, as they are dedicated to improving lifestyle as well.

IMPLICATION FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Staying healthy after cancer is important to both patients and their partners, and both experience their own facilitators and barriers to achieving this. Seeing a healthy lifestyle as a joint goal might facilitate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number248
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26-Mar-2024


  • Humans
  • Female
  • Life Style
  • Health Behavior
  • Diet
  • Qualitative Research
  • Breast Neoplasms


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