Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) may be reduced by healthy lifestyle behaviours. We determined the extent of self-reported lifestyle changes in people at increased risk of CRC, and the association of these reports with anxiety, risk and knowledge-based variables.
Methods: We randomly selected 250 participants who had undergone surveillance colonoscopy for family history of CRC. A telephone interview was conducted, recording demographics and family history. Self-reported lifestyle change due to thoughts about CRC across a range of dietary and lifestyle variables was assessed on a four-point scale. Participants' perceptions of the following were recorded: risk factor knowledge, personal risk, and worry due to family history. General anxiety was assessed using the GAD-7 scale. Ordinal logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted results.
Results: There were 148 participants (69% response). 79.7% reported at least one healthy change. Change in diet and physical activity were most frequently reported (fiber, 63%; fruit and vegetables, 54%; red meat, 47%; physical activity, 45%), with consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and body weight less likely (tobacco, 25%; alcohol, 26%; weight 31%). People were more likely to report healthy change with lower levels of generalized anxiety, higher worry due to family history, or greater perceived knowledge of CRC risk factors. Risk perception and risk due to family history were not associated with healthy changes.
Conclusions: Self-reported lifestyle changes due to thoughts about CRC were common. Lower general anxiety levels, worries due to family history, and perceived knowledge of risk factors may stimulate healthy changes.