Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 2297–2304 | Cite as

Oncology care provider perspectives on exercise promotion in people with cancer: an examination of knowledge, practices, barriers, and facilitators

  • Michelle NadlerEmail author
  • Daryl Bainbridge
  • Jennifer Tomasone
  • Oren Cheifetz
  • Rosalyn A. Juergens
  • Jonathan Sussman
Original Article



Despite the reported benefits of physical activity in alleviating the impact of cancer and its treatments, oncology care providers (OCPs) are not routinely discussing exercise with their patients, suggesting a knowledge to action gap. We sought to determine OCP’s knowledge, beliefs, barriers, and facilitators to exercise discussion.


A survey was administered to OCPs at the cancer center in Hamilton, Ontario. Questions comprised of demographics, knowledge and beliefs regarding exercise guidelines, and barriers and facilitators to exercise discussion. Analysis of survey responses was descriptive. Pearson’s chi-squared test was used to examine select associations.


There were 120 respondents (61% response rate) representing a diversity of professions. Approximately, 80% of OCPs were not aware of any exercise guidelines in cancer and self-reported poor knowledge on when, how, and which patients to refer to exercise programs. OCPs who reported meeting Canada’s Physical Activity guidelines were significantly more likely to identify correct guidelines (p = 0.023) and to report good knowledge on how to provide exercise counseling (p = 0.014). Across OCP groups, barriers to exercise discussion included poor knowledge, lack of time, and safety concerns. Most felt that educational sessions and having an exercise specialist on the clinical team would be beneficial.


OCPs have low knowledge regarding exercise counseling, but believe that discussing exercise is a multidisciplinary task and expressed a desire for further training. Interventions will require a multi-pronged approach including education for OCPs and guidance on assessment for exercise safety.


Neoplasms Medical oncology Exercise Physical activity Guideline Patient care team Knowledge Knowledge translation 


Authors’ contribution

Conceptualization M.N., J.S.; methodology M.N., J.T., O.C., R.J., J.S.; validation and investigation M.N., D.B., J.T. J.S.; resources J.S.; writing M.N., D.B., J.S., review and editing M.N., D.B., J.T., O.C., J.S.; administration M.N.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study received funding from the supportive cancer care research unit at the JCC.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Nadler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daryl Bainbridge
    • 2
  • Jennifer Tomasone
    • 3
  • Oren Cheifetz
    • 4
  • Rosalyn A. Juergens
    • 2
    • 5
  • Jonathan Sussman
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.McMaster Michael G DeGroote School of MedicineHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of OncologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.School of Kinesiology and Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  4. 4.Hamilton Health SciencesHamiltonCanada
  5. 5.Escarpment Cancer Research Institute (ECRI)HamiltonCanada

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