Open Access Research article

CanPrevent: a telephone-delivered intervention to reduce multiple behavioural risk factors for colorectal cancer

Anna L Hawkes12*, Tania A Patrao2, Anita Green3 and Joanne F Aitken2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland, 4059, Australia

2 Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland, PO Box 201, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, 4004, Australia

3 The University of Queensland Health Service, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:560  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-560

Published: 27 November 2012



This pilot study aimed to test the acceptability and short-term effectiveness of a telephone-delivered multiple health behaviour change intervention for relatives of colorectal cancer survivors.


A community-based sample of 22 first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors were recruited via a media release. Data were collected at baseline and at six weeks (post-intervention). Outcome measures included health behaviours (physical activity, television viewing, diet, alcohol, body mass index, waist circumference and smoking), health-related quality of life (Short Form-36) and perceived colorectal cancer risk. Intervention satisfaction levels were also measured. The intervention included six telephone health coaching sessions, a participant handbook and a pedometer. It focused on behavioural risk factors for colorectal cancer [physical activity, diet (red and processed meat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake), alcohol, weight management and smoking], and colorectal cancer risk.


From baseline to six weeks, improvements were observed for minutes moderate-vigorous physical activity (150.7 minutes), processed meat intake (−1.2 serves/week), vegetable intake (1 serve/day), alcohol intake (−0.4 standard drinks/day), body mass index (−1.4 kg/m2), and waist circumference (−5.1 cm). Improvements were also observed for physical (3.3) and mental (4.4) health-related quality of life. Further, compared with baseline, participants were more likely to meet Australian recommendations post-intervention for: moderate-vigorous physical activity (27.3 vs 59.1%); fruit intake (68.2 vs 81.8%); vegetable intake (4.6 vs 18.2%); alcohol consumption (59.1 vs 72.7%); body mass index (31.8 vs 45.5%) and waist circumference (18.2 vs 27.3%). At six weeks participants were more likely to believe a diagnosis of CRC was related to family history, and there was a decrease in their perceived risk of developing CRC in their lifetime following participation in CanPrevent. The intervention retention rate was 100%, participants reported that it was highly acceptable and they would recommend it to others at risk of colorectal cancer.


Positive behaviour change achieved through this intervention approach has the potential to impact on the progression of CRC and other cancers or chronic diseases. A large scale randomised controlled trial is required to confirm the positive results of this acceptability and short-term effectiveness study.

Trial registration


Colorectal cancer; Multiple health behaviour change intervention; Lifestyle; Physical activity; Telephone; Prevention; Family history