Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica L. Burris


Cancer diagnosis has potential to motivate health behavior changes to promote better health outcomes. The Teachable Moment Heuristic is a parsimonious, transtheoretical framework for understanding the conditions under which behavior change might occur, with constructs that include affective, cognitive, and social factors. This exploratory study aimed to measure the three primary constructs of the Teachable Moment, evaluate the extent to which they are associated with cancer survivors’ motivation to adopt favorable health behaviors, and explore their potential as a model for health behavior performance. Participants (n = 93) in this cross-sectional study were adult breast, prostate, colorectal, lung, and head/neck cancer survivors (45.16% male) who were diagnosed within the past five years (M, SD = 2 ± 1.68 years). Overall, participants reported mild distress, moderate wellbeing, moderate perceptions of health risk, and moderate changes in their self-concept and social role within the past month. Correlation matrices and linear regression models were applied to examine the relationships between the Teachable Moment constructs and health behaviors in the domains of diet, physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption, with some significant associations and modest predictive utility. Results support further exploration of the Teachable Moment Heuristic on health promotion after cancer diagnosis, perhaps with a focus on longitudinal studies and identifying if there is an optimal “window of opportunity” during which to capitalize on high motivation for health behavior change.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)