Cancer survivors’ experiences of a community-based cancer-specific exercise programme: results of an exploratory survey

Catt, Susan, Sheward, J, Sheward, E and Harder, H (2018) Cancer survivors’ experiences of a community-based cancer-specific exercise programme: results of an exploratory survey. Supportive Care in Cancer, 26 (9). pp. 3209-3216. ISSN 0941-4355

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Exercise levels often decline following cancer diagnosis despite growing evidence of its benefits. Treatment side-effects, older age, lack of confidence and opportunity to exercise with others in similar circumstances influence this. Our study explored the experiences of people attending a cancer-specific community-based exercise programme (CU Fitter™).

A survey distributed to those attending the programme gathered demographic/clinical information, self-reported exercise levels, information provision and barriers to/benefits of exercise.

Sixty surveys were evaluable from 65/100 returned (62% female, 68% >60yrs, 66% breast/prostate cancer). Most (68%) were receiving treatment. 68% attended classes once or twice weekly. 55% received exercise advice after diagnosis, usually from their hospital doctor/nurse. More (73%) had read about exercising, but less used the internet to source information (32%). Self-reported exercise levels were higher currently than before diagnosis (p=0.05). 48% said their primary barrier to exercising was the physical impact of cancer/treatment. Improving fitness/health (40%) and social support (16%) were the most important gains from the programme. Many (67%) had made other lifestyle changes and intented to keep (50%), or increase (30%) exercising.

This community-based cancer-specific exercise approach engaged people with cancer and showed physical, psychological, and social benefits.

Implications for cancer survivors
Community grown exercise initiatives bring cancer survivors together creating their own supportive environment. Combining this with instructors familiar with the population and providing an open-ended service may prove particularly motivating and beneficial. Further work is required to provide evidence for this.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: cancer; exercise; health behaviour; physical activity; quality of life; survivorship
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Health Outcomes Research and Education in Cancer
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0773 Personal health and hygiene Including clothing, bathing, exercise, travel, nutrition, sleep, sex hygiene
Depositing User: Susan Catt
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 14:51
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 12:46

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Practical and educational interventions to reduce stress in women with breast cancerG1965BREAST CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATIONBCRF-16-050