The amount of cancer-related information available to the general population continues to grow; yet, its effects are unclear. This study extends previous cross-sectional research establishing that cancer information seeking across a variety of sources is extensive and positively associated with engaging in health-related behaviors. The authors studied how active information seeking about cancer prevention influenced three healthy lifestyle behaviors using a 2-round nationally representative sample of adults ages 40-70 years (n = 1,795), using propensity scoring to control for potential confounders including baseline behavior. The adjusted odds of dieting at follow-up were 1.51 (95% CI: 1.05, 2.19) times higher for those who reported baseline seeking from media and interpersonal sources relative to nonseekers. Baseline seekers ate 0.59 (95% CI: 0.28, 0.91) more fruits and vegetable servings per day and exercised 0.36 (95% CI: 0.12, 0.60) more days per week at 1-year follow-up compared with nonseekers. The effects of seeking from media and friends/family on eating fruits and vegetables and exercising were independent of seeking from physicians. The authors offer several explanations for why information seeking predicts healthy lifestyle behaviors: information obtained motivates these behaviors; information sought teaches specific techniques; and the act of information seeking may reinforce a psychological commitment to dieting, eating fruits and vegetables, and exercising.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article not subject to US copyright law. The authors acknowledge the funding support of the National Cancer Institute’s Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication located at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania (P50-CA095856-05). Address correspondence to A. Susana Ramírez, Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, National Cancer Institute, 6130 Executive Boulevard, Room 4051A, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org