Health Status and social support in long-term cancer survivors: a cross-sectional study

Magdalena Esteva Cantó, Beatriz Leon, Joan Llobera, Marc Casajoana, Edurne Zabaleta-Del-Olmo, Tomás López-Jiménez, Bonaventura Bolibar

Keywords: Primary health care, cancer long-term survivors, life style, comorbidity, quality of life, health promotion.


Quality of life and social support are key elements during the cancer survivorship period.

Research questions:

Does cancer survivors display a worse health status and less social support compared with population who have not suffered a cancer?


Descriptive study nested in phase II and III of a cluster randomized trial (EIRA study) to establish the effect of a complex intervention individual, group and community) in primary care that aims to decrease tobacco consumption, the low adherence to Mediterranean diet and low physical activity.
Setting: 38 health centres of 11 provinces of Spain.
Participants: Subjects 45-75 years old with almost two risky behaviours were included.
Measurements: Sociodemographic, diet, physical activity, tobacco consumption, body mass index, Charlson comorbidity index, diagnosis of cancer, health status perception and social support.


We included 4,259 patients; 190 (4.46%) were cancer survivors. Cancer survivors were older (62.8; SD=7) compared to non-cancer persons 58.7 years; (SD=8; p<0.01). Prevalence of permanent disability was higher in cancer survivors 11.9% vs. 3.5%; P<0.001). No differences were observed between groups in smoking, adherence to Mediterranean diet and physical activity, obesity and scores of social support. Cancer survivors patients perceived their health status lower than non-cancer persons (OR 1.82 IC95% 1.02-2.75), had higher percentage more than 1 health problems (OR 1.68 IC95% 1.18-2.39), higher presence of COPD (OR 2.17; IC95% 1.25-3.78), and depression (OR 1.65; IC95% 1.06-2.57). Adjusted model show a higher risk of worse perception of health status and age.


Cancer survivors suffer from a higher number of chronic diseases, have more permanent disability and value their health status as bad with more frequency than people without cancer but social support is similar in both groups. More than 80% of cancer survivor’s maintain unhealthy behaviour in high proportion. This could represent an important problem for their future health and quality of life.

Points for discussion: