Journal of Undergraduate Research


relationship processes, cancer screening decisions, married couples


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. A family history of CRC is one of the strongest risk factors for the disease; those with a first-degree relative (i.e., a parent, sibling or child) with CRC have a two- to four-fold increased risk of CRC compared to the general population. A large literature indicates CRC screening can significantly reduce risk of CRC, yet screening rates remain less than optimal in those at increased risk. Some literature suggests that social influence and greater family support for screening and lower levels of social isolation are associated with increased CRC screening. However, much of the work on social relationships has focused on broader health behavior or the effect of social networks on individuals who have already been diagnosed with cancer, while relatively little has examined the effect of social relationships in preventing cancer occurrence, specifically the quality of the marital relationship and communication processes on spousal influence in CRC screening decision-making and lifestyle behaviors that can reduce risk. This study represented an innovative partnership between BYU, the University of Utah and Huntsman Cancer Institute. The primary goal of this project is to examine the effect of spousal influence, spousal communication patterns, and spousal relationship quality on cancer screening decision making in at-risk individuals and on lifestyle behaviors that can reduce cancer risk.

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