Association of Cancer Worry and Physical Activity Behaviors in Adults without Cancer


  • Jamil M Lane
  • Brandon W Qualls
  • Jason D Freeman
  • Daniel Rodriguez



Cancer Worry, Physical Activity, Cancer Prevention, Public Health


Background: Cancer worry has been conceptualized as a potential motivator to engage in cancer preventative behaviors like cancer screening, genetic testing, or smoking cessation. It is currently unknown if these findings extend to the domain of physical activity, as physical activity has been associated with decreased cancer risk. Objective: To examine if the association between cancer worry and other health behaviors will extend to physical activity in a sample of adults not diagnosed with cancer. Methods: Data are drawn from the NCI's 2017 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) Iteration 5 Cycle 1 (N = 2,706) dataset, a nationally representative survey of adults in the United States. A KruskalWallis-H test was conducted to determine whether physical activity duration (i.e., daily minutes) differed between cancer worry levels with a post hoc Dunn's multiple comparison test to compare the differences between mean ranks. Results: A Kruskal-Wallis-H test showed statistically significant differences in PA duration (i.e., daily minutes) between groups that differed in their level of cancer worry. PA in minutes on a typical day was significantly lower in those who reported not at all, moderate, and extreme worry about developing cancer compared to those who reported slightly and somewhat worried. Conclusion: Contrary to our expectations, our results suggest that higher cancer worry levels are paradoxically associated with less PA. This study's results are significant in that they add to the breadth of literature linking cancer worry to health behaviors and may be used to inform future health promotion interventions.




How to Cite

Lane, J. M., Qualls, B. W., Freeman, J. D., & Rodriguez, D. (2021). Association of Cancer Worry and Physical Activity Behaviors in Adults without Cancer. American Journal of Health Studies, 36(2), 88–93.