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Substance Use, Depression, and Illness Perception Among Cancer Patients

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Objectives: Research demonstrates a link between alcohol and tobacco use in the development of cancer, but limited research exists regarding substance use after a cancer diagnosis. In this study, we examine the rates of alcohol and tobacco use in advanced cancer patients, investigate the link between depression and tobacco and alcohol use pre- and post-diagnosis, and determine the relationship between illness perception and tobacco and alcohol use post-diagnosis.Methods: We performed a secondary data analysis on 2 prospective studies of patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancers. We administered a battery of questionnaires to assess substance use, depression, and illness perception. Results: Patients who reported tobacco use post-diagnosis had higher levels of depressive symptoms when compared to patients with a history of tobacco use or no alcohol or tobacco use (Kruskal-Wallis = 25.77, p < .0125). Patients who reported being more emotionally affected by their illness reported greater tobacco use (Mann-Whitney U = 17, 284.5, p < .003). Conclusions: Tobacco use post-diagnosis was associated with higher levels of depression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Student, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh 2: Director, UPMC Liver Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, PA 3: Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 4: Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 5: Clinical Instructor, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 6: Vice Chair of Research, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 7: Professor and Chairman, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV 8: Director, Center for Excellence in Behavioral Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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