Background Although beneficial effects of physical activity in adult cancer survivors are well-established, patients are often not active enough to reap such benefits. The aim of this project was to develop a theory-based physical activity behaviour change intervention to promote physical activity in cancer survivors.
Methods Development stage of the MRC framework was completed conducting systematic review with meta-analysis, focus groups of adult survivors of any type of cancer and an online survey of primary, secondary and allied healthcare professionals in oncology. A separate literature review was conducted to identify the relevant theory to underpin the proposed physical activity promotional intervention.
Results Education materials in various formats are effective to increase physical activity in cancer survivors. Reminders based on behaviour change theories complements readiness to initiate or increase exercise. Focus group participants in general revealed receiving inconsistent physical activity advice, and preferred this to be tailored and face-to-face as part of their standard care, with a component of reminders at the end of their active cancer treatment. The survey findings reiterated focus group participants’ experiences highlighting such inconsistency, partly because of health professionals’ lack of knowledge or confidence to offer optimum physical activity advice.
Findings from the above three phases were integrated into a weekly text message based intervention that can easily be integrated into existing health services with minimal structural or financial implications.
Conclusion Physical inactivity in cancer survivors needs addressing to improve their quality of life. Behaviour change interventions need to be theory-driven and low-maintenance. The proposed intervention to promote physical activity in cancer survivors comprising of 12 weekly text messages may be beneficial when integrated into existing health services.
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