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Discovery and Development of Educational Strategies To Encourage Safe Food Handling Behaviors in Cancer Patients

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Foodborne infections pose a threat to cancer patients who are immunocompromised because of disease or medical therapy. Comprehensive food safety education can raise cancer patients' awareness of risk for foodborne infections and encourage risk-reducing behavior. The objectives of this study were to assess food safety informational needs of cancer patients and to determine factors that may influence prospective educational interventions that foster risk-reducing behaviors. Focus groups with cancer patients were formed, and interviews with health professionals working with cancer patients were conducted. Findings were used to develop three educational resource prototypes for cancer patients. Information from two additional focus groups and interviews with cancer patients was used to evaluate the prototypes before revision and finalization. There was a general awareness among focus group participants that chemotherapy increased their susceptibility to foodborne illness and infections. Participants had a basic knowledge of safe food handling practices but did not necessarily link their awareness of increased susceptibility for infection with their routine food handling practices. When informed of specific high-risk foods, there was skepticism about compliance due to disbelief of the risk, personal preferences for the high-risk food, and lack of information about how to use the recommendation. Most of the health care providers agreed that food safety information should be provided by dietitians, physicians, and nurses, but physicians stated they had little time to do so. Cancer patients expressed positive attitudes toward the educational resource prototypes and willingness to follow the food safety recommendations provided.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1295, USA 2: Center for Social and Economic Behavior Studies, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Kunming, 650221 Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China 3: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6376, USA 4: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1571, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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