Physical activity correlates and barriers in head and neck cancer patients
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- Rogers, L.Q., Courneya, K.S., Robbins, K.T. et al. Support Care Cancer (2008) 16: 19. doi:10.1007/s00520-007-0293-0
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Our study purpose was to determine physical activity correlates and barriers among head and neck cancer patients.
Materials and methods
Fifty-nine (response rate = 91%) head and neck cancer patients from an academic oncology clinic enrolled in a cross-sectional study utilizing chart review and self-administered questionnaire.
The majority were men (83%) and white (92%) with mean age of 58 ± 12.8 years and mean months since diagnosis of 18.6 ± 51.9. The strongest bivariate correlates of physical activity included enjoyment (r = 0.41; p = 0.002), symptom index (r = −0.36; p = 0.006), alcohol use (r = 0.36; p = 0.007), task self-efficacy (r = 0.33; p = 0.013), perceived barriers (r = −0.27; p = 0.047), and comorbidity score (r = −0.27; p = 0.042). Stepwise regression demonstrated independent associations with physical activity for enjoyment (β = 0.38; p = 0.002) and symptom index (β = −0.33; p = 0.006; R2 = 0.28). The most prevalent barriers significantly associated with physical activity included dry mouth or throat (r = −0.32; p = 0.016), fatigue (r = −0.27; p = 0.043), drainage in mouth or throat (r = −0.41; p = 0.002), difficulty eating (r = −0.32; p = 0.015), shortness of breath (r = −0.30; p = 0.024), and muscle weakness (r = −0.29; p = 0.033).
Our results showed that the strongest independent correlates of physical activity were social cognitive (i.e., enjoyment) and treatment-related (i.e., symptom index). Treatment-related activity barriers were frequent and significantly associated with reduced activity. Efforts to enhance exercise adherence in head and neck cancer patients should focus on optimizing enjoyment and managing treatment-related barriers.