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Information about physical activity from healthcare staff should be given early after diagnosis

Why patients are in need of motivational support
Exercise support talks

Patients undergoing adjuvant cancer treatment may safely undertake physical exercise; however, they describe three kinds of barrier actual or perceived to being physically active or working out, according to this Swedish study.

Researchers from Uppsala recruited a sample of 23 patients in a university hospital undergoing treatment with curative intent for either prostate, breast or colorectal cancer. They were invited to participate in focus groups and individual open-ended interviews. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed according to Graneheim and Lundmans guidelines for qualitative content analysis.

The patients suggested that practical physical constraints, such as side effects associated with anticancer treatment, like fatigue, or the risk of incontinence due to prostate treatment, affected their ability or willingness to risk engagement with meaningful exercise.

Perspectives and attitudes to exercise or how they would be perceived in a

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Patients undergoing adjuvant cancer treatment may safely undertake physical exercise; however, they describe three kinds of barrier – actual or perceived – to being physically active or working out, according to this Swedish study.

Exercise support talks
Professional staff motivated patients. Pic: Getty.

Researchers from Uppsala recruited a sample of 23 patients in a university hospital undergoing treatment with curative intent for either prostate, breast or colorectal cancer. They were invited to participate in focus groups and individual open-ended interviews. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed according to Graneheim and Lundman’s guidelines for qualitative content analysis.

The patients suggested that practical physical constraints, such as side effects associated with anticancer treatment, like fatigue, or the risk of incontinence due to prostate treatment, affected their ability or willingness to risk engagement with meaningful exercise.

Perspectives and attitudes to exercise or how they would be perceived in a changing room, exposing any obvious effects of cancer treatment, was a significant barrier. The fear of experiencing or exacerbating side effects of treatment as a result of exercising also limited some of the participants.

Influences from motivational staff

The type of support the patient experienced, such as motivational, professional staff, was influential, though the lack of practical areas or equipment was noted to be a pragmatic barrier. Some patients noted how their family could be overprotective, undertaking almost all activity on their behalf or fretting that physical activity could be detrimental.

Henriksson A, Arving C, Johansson B et al (2016) Perceived barriers to and facilitators of being physically active during adjuvant cancer treatment. Patient Education and Counseling. 99, 7, 1220-1226. 

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