Breast cancer survivors’ perspectives on a home-based physical activity intervention utilizing wearable technology

  • Renee L. Kokts-Porietis
  • Chelsea R. Stone
  • Christine M. Friedenreich
  • Alyssa Froese
  • Meghan McDonough
  • Jessica McNeilEmail author
Original Article



To gain breast cancer survivors’ perspectives on participation in a home-based physical activity intervention and the factors that contributed to their acceptance and adherence to physical activity.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six women who had participated in a 12-week, home-based physical activity intervention using Polar A360® activity trackers. Additionally, 22 participants from the physical activity interventions provided scaled responses to barriers of physical activity on weeks 3, 6, 9, and 12. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used for qualitative data.


Perceptions (n = 6) were categorized into three main themes including (i) Study Environment which consisted of three subthemes acrch versus fear of failure, power of results, and reminders of cancer and moving beyond. (ii) Influence of People encompassed two subthemes, i.e., personal relationships and self as a source of motivation; and (iii) Wearable Technology which was divided into two subthemes, i.e., objective insights into health and disconnect of person and technology. From the scaled responses, the most impactful barriers for participants within the intervention groups (n = 22) were “feeling busy,” “lack of motivation,” and “weather.”


Wearable technology was perceived largely as a facilitator to physical activity in the current study, but technologic difficulties created a barrier to physical activity adherence. Additionally, participants’ perceptions of study design elements and social support influenced their acceptance and adherence to the home-based physical activity interventions and should be considered to inform the design and implementation of future studies.


Breast cancer survivorship Motivation Facilitators Barriers Activity trackers 



The authors wish to thank Mary Beth Eckersley for contributing to the knowledge translation plan for this pilot study. The BC-PAL pilot trial Exercise Physiologists were Katy Koots and Rebecca Urbat. Trainees who assisted with data collection, interview transcription, and data entry were Maryah Liepert and Benny Viner. Data management, including database creation, questionnaire design, data integrity, and quality control, was completed by Dr. Steven Szarka, Farit Vakhetov, and Wendy Walroth.


Data collection for the BC-PAL pilot trial was funded by a Catalyst Grant from the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, University of Calgary, and the Carole May Yates Memorial Endowment for Cancer Research Fund, administered through the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, University of Calgary.

Ms. Stone was supported by the Queen Elizabeth II (Province of Alberta) Scholarship. Dr. Friedenreich was supported by a Health Senior Scholar Award from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions and the Alberta Cancer Foundation Weekend to End Women’s Cancers Breast Cancer Chair. Dr. McNeil is a recipient of Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Cancer Control AlbertaAlberta Health ServicesCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Oncology, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of KinesiologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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