, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 37-40
Date: 09 Jan 2013

Physical activity and patient-reported outcomes: enhancing impact

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Physical activity (PA) is beneficial for cancer survivors across the cancer trajectory. Evidence indicates physical and psychosocial benefits, and ultimately, enhanced overall quality of life, for individuals who are more versus less active (Semin Oncol Nurs 23:285–296, 2007; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14:1672–1680, 2005; J Cancer Surviv 4:87–100, 2010). A number of recent reviews have been conducted that examine different patient or survivor populations and outcomes. In general, the findings across the reviews reveal potential positive associations between exercise (structured activity one engages in for the purposes of enhancing health-related fitness outcomes) and PA (any physical movement, including lifestyle types of activity) with both physical and psychological outcomes. It is important to note, however, that depending on the nature of the review and the types of studies included in the review, the strength of the findings (i.e., effect size) vary. Despite this overwhelmingly positive evidence for the benefits of PA, activity levels are very low among cancer survivors, with one study reporting only 22 % of survivors as active enough to achieve health benefits (Cancer 112(11):2475–2482, 2008). This suggests that we must begin to better understand the factors that impact the uptake and maintenance of PA among cancer survivors. These potential factors are important when considering the patient-reported outcomes to assess and can include timing (i.e., during or after treatment completion), characteristics of the cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments (i.e., early vs. late stage cancers), and characteristics of the individual (i.e., older vs. younger).