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Health Psychol. 2019 Sep;38(9):840-850. doi: 10.1037/hea0000760.

Toward a health-promoting system for cancer survivors: Patient and provider multiple behavior change.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.



This paper examines how and why to improve care systems for disease management and health promotion for the growing population of cancer survivors with cardiovascular multi-morbidities.


We reviewed research characterizing cancer survivors' and their multiple providers' common sense cognitive models of survivors' main health threats, preventable causes of adverse health events, and optimal coping strategies.


Findings indicate that no entity in the health care system self-identifies as claiming primary responsibility to address longstanding unhealthy lifestyle behaviors that heighten survivors' susceptibility to both cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and whose improvement could enhance quality of life.


To address this gap, we propose systems-level changes that integrate health promotion into existing survivorship services by including behavioral risk factor vital signs in the electronic medical record, with default proactive referral to a health promotionist (a paraprofessional coach adept with mobile technologies and supervised by a professional expert in health behavior change). By using the patient's digital tracking data to coach remotely and periodically report progress to providers, the health promotionist closes a gap, creating a connected care system that supports, reinforces, and maintains accountability for healthy lifestyle improvement. No comparable resource solely dedicated to treatment of chronic disease risk behaviors (smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, treatment nonadherence) exists in current models of integrated care. Integrating health promotionists into care delivery channels would remove burden from overtaxed PCPs and instantiate a comprehensive, actionable systems-level schema of health risks and coping strategies needed to have preventive impact with minimal interference to clinical work flow. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

[Available on 2020-09-01]

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