Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elizabeth Capezuti

Committee Members

Juan Battle

Erica Chito-Childs

Subject Categories

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Exercise Physiology | Health and Physical Education | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Public Health and Community Nursing | Public Health Education and Promotion | Sports Sciences


physical activity, sedentary behavior, cancer, Intersectionality, health promotion, secondary analysis


Background: Physical activity is associated with lower risks of cancer, the second leading cause of death among Americans. Yet, sedentary behavior is the prevailing lifestyle for about 80% of American adults. Additionally, cancer survivors remain significantly inactive, even though physical activity has been shown to decrease risk of cancer and cancer recurrence, improve tolerance of cancer therapy, and reduce mortality. This research explores the relative impact of personal agency, social support, and key demographic variables on physical-activity behavior for a national sample of adults as well as how these relationships differ for cancer survivors and their counterparts.

Methods: Using the theoretical frameworks of Social Cognitive Theory and Intersectionality, this investigation employed hierarchical regression modeling utilizing the 2020 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 5, Cycle 4 dataset. Additionally, analyses were conducted separately for cancer survivors and those who never had cancer to assess for differences in the relationships between the independent variables and physical activity-behavior.

Results: Several variables within the domains of personal agency (wearing activity trackers, confidence in care, feeling strong), social support (YouTube, health insurance), and demographics (sex, race, marital status, education, feeling comfortable with income) significantly impacted physical-activity behavior in the general population. However, when the sample was split between cancer survivors and those who never had cancer, the analyses revealed several intersectional differences demonstrating that confidence in care, being female, and household size were the variables that influenced physical activity behavior for cancer survivors.

Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that various personal agency, social support, and demographic variables predict physical-activity behavior. In addition, the intersectional findings suggest the need for tailored assessments and interventions for cancer survivors.

Keywords: physical activity, sedentary behavior, cancer, Intersectionality