What helps to promote physical activity for cancer survivors?
Though beneficial effects of physical activity in adult cancer survivors are well-established, they are not active enough to reap such benefits. Interventions to promote physical activity are needed. Hence, the aim of this project was to develop a physical activity behaviour change intervention for cancer survivors.
Following the Medical Research Council framework, a systematic review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of physical activity education materials, a literature review identified relevant theory to underpin the proposed intervention, focus groups explored cancer survivors’ views about physical activity advice and informed the refinement of the intervention. Finally a survey of health professionals explored knowledge and beliefs about promoting physical activity to cancer survivors.
The systematic review findings indicated that education materials may increase physical activity levels in cancer survivors. Furthermore reinforcement based on behaviour change theories complements readiness to initiate or increase exercise. Focus group participants wanted consistent, tailored and face-to-face physical activity advice as part of their standard care. The survey confirmed the focus group findings but highlighted inconsistency, with health professionals lacking knowledge or confidence to give physical activity advice.
Physical inactivity in cancer survivors needs addressing to improve quality of life. Behaviour change interventions need to be theory-driven and low-maintenance. A proposed feasibility randomised controlled trial of 12 weekly text messages reinforcement intervention to promote physical activity in cancer survivors may be beneficial if integrated into existing health services.