Oncologists’ Exercise Recommendations are not Enough

15 Aug 2018 2:01 PM | Brandon Davenport (Administrator)

Digest Commentator:

Paquito Bernard a,b,c , Josée Savard a,b,c

  • Université Laval Cancer Research Center, Québec, Québec, Canada
  • School of Psychology, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
  • CHU de Québec – Université Laval Research Center, Québec, Québec, Canada

Edited by: Jennifer Brunet, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Mary Ann O’Brien, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Park et al. (2015) examined the effects of oncologists’ exercise recommendations among breast and colorectal cancer survivors. The investigators assigned participants, after completion of cancer treatments, to one of three conditions: control (i.e., conventional consultation); exercise recommendations only (i.e., emphasizing possible benefits from moderate intensity physical activity on risk of cancer recurrence); exercise recommendations with motivation tools (i.e., DVDs, diary and pedometers) plus one educational session administered by an exercise specialist. DVDs presented 3 sets of different resistance exercises without equipment. Participants recorded steps walked by day in diary. Self-reported physical activity assessed 4 weeks after brief intervention was the primary outcome. Quality of life was also measured with European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ C-30 questionnaire.

121 breast cancer survivors and 41 colorectal cancer survivors were recruited. The study retention rate was good (80%). Intent-to-treat analyses indicated that the addition of motivation tools and one educational session to the oncologist’s exercise recommendation significantly increased self-reported duration of moderate intensity exercise and duration of total exercise as compared to the control group. Participants who received the motivation tools and one educational session in addition to the exercise recommendations increase their total exercise time by almost 80 minutes per week. Participants who were assigned to the control group or who only received oncologist’s exercise recommendations did not significantly modify their exercise behaviours. No between-group difference was found on global quality of life.

This recent investigation shows that oncologists’ recommendations to increase exercise may not enough to change breast cancer survivors and colorectal cancer survivors’ exercise behaviour, which supports the idea that exercise recommendations should be accompanied by adapted motivational tools and a consultation with an exercise specialist.

Why we liked this article: Unfortunately, too often, physical activity promotion in oncology is conceptualized as a simple prescription from the oncologist. But physical activity is a complex health behaviour and becoming physically active is an important challenge for cancer survivors. This study highlights that a tailored  intervention is effective. This investigation also suggests that integrating exercise specialists in oncology services may be important.

Park, J.-H., Lee, J., Oh, M., Park, H., Chae, J., Kim, D.-I., … Jeon, J. Y. (2015). The effect of oncologists’ exercise recommendations on the level of exercise and quality of life in survivors of breast and colorectal cancer: A randomized controlled trial. Cancer, 121(16), 2740‑2748. http://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.29400

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