Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Bruce Levin, DrPH, MPH

Committee Member

Alicia Best, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, CPH

Committee Member

Clement Gwede, Ph.D., MPH, RN

Committee Member

Claudia Parvanta, Ph.D.


chronic disease prevention, lifestyle, theory of planned behavior, young adults


The recreational sports arena provides a venue for young adults to increase physical activity and engage in a socially supportive environment. These are both important ways to decrease the risk for chronic diseases. It is assumed that physically active individuals lead healthier lifestyles and are more attuned to their long-term health needs. Recreational sport athletes also engage in risks for adverse cancer outcomes through increased sun exposure, intake of unhealthy diets, and recreational tobacco and alcohol use. It was of interest to assess cancer-related risk factors, cancer knowledge, and theory of planned behavior constructs in this group.

This study involved a cross-sectional, web-based survey, with recruitment to participate in an online survey. The study was guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and included items that were adapted from national surveys including the Health Information National Trends (HINTS) survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS). Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted in IBM SPSS Statistics version 25.0.

A total of 712 participants completed the survey. Gender representation was nearly equal with a slightly higher number of women (n = 359; 50.4%). Participants included in the study sample identified as black (n = 333; 46.8%), white (n = 316; 44.4%) or some other race (n = 63; 8.8%). The average number of days per week for physical activity was 3.97 (SD = 1.796) and nearly half of participants believed themselves to be ‘at low risk’ for getting cancer (n = 353; 49.6%). Regarding the outcome variable, higher scores for intention to screen for cancers were reported by participants who were older, female, users of sun protection, had higher perceived risk, higher cancer knowledge, higher perceived behavioral control (i.e. self-efficacy) and higher subjective norms. Theoretical constructs accounted for 34.2% of the variance in intention to screen for cancer.

Results suggest that TPB is a relevant model for determining intention to screen for various cancer types among recreational sport athletes ages 18-49. Education regarding prevention behaviors, including cancer screening, early in adulthood is one strategy for reducing lifetime cancer risk and cancer death. The recreational sporting environment gathers wide attention from young adults and opportunities to encourage healthy behaviors for both short and long-term benefits.

Included in

Public Health Commons