A survey investigating the associations between self-management practices and quality of life in cancer survivors

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Colleges, School and Institutes



To explore whether the use of self-management (SM) practices in cancer survivors impact on their health beliefs and quality of life (QoL). This is an important step in attempting to improve cancer survivors’ health pathways and their experiences of living with cancer.


A cross-sectional, postal survey study was undertaken amongst cancer survivors identified from a teaching hospital in the West Midlands, UK. The questionnaire collected demographic data from respondents and information on the number and types of SM practices—diet, exercise, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), psychological therapies, support groups and spirituality/religion—cancer survivors used after completing their treatment. Information was also gathered regarding their QoL and internal health locus of control (HLC).


A total of 445 cancer survivors responded to the survey. Multi-linear regression analysis found a positive association between SM uptake and HLC; however, none was found between SM uptake and QoL. Treatment type, ethnicity and age were significantly associated with an increased use of SM practices.


The study findings have implications for health care providers, who need to be aware of the links between SM uptake and treatment type, ethnicity and age, when considering how best to incorporate SM into cancer survivors’ lives. This can help cancer survivors who may benefit from using specific SM interventions that consider the socio-demographic and treatment-related factors impacting on them. Future research would benefit from assessing the motivations and benefits of cancer survivors of different ages, ethnicities and treatment modalities in terms of their decision-making about SM use.

These findings suggest that SM uptake is associated with higher internal HLC in cancer survivors. However, the influence of treatment type, ethnicity and age plays a more significant role in determining SM uptake than HLC. Cancer survivors using SM may be more motivated to utilise SM practices in relation to their age, ethnicity and treatment type, generating positive health outcomes in the process. Policy-makers should be aware of the supportive role SM interventions can play in cancer care and survivorship, with future research focussing on the perceived benefit of these SM interventions to cancer survivors.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2655-2662
JournalSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Issue number9
Early online date12 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • Cancer, Quality of life, Health beliefs, Self-management, Survivorship