Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 355–368 | Cite as

A randomized trial of a Facebook-based physical activity intervention for young adult cancer survivors

  • Carmina G. ValleEmail author
  • Deborah F. Tate
  • Deborah K. Mayer
  • Marlyn Allicock
  • Jianwen Cai



Over half of young adult cancer survivors do not meet physical activity (PA) guidelines. PA interventions can enhance health and quality of life among young adult cancer survivors. However, few exercise interventions have been designed and tested in this population. This study evaluated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a 12-week, Facebook-based intervention (FITNET) aimed at increasing moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA compared with a Facebook-based self-help comparison (SC) condition.


Young adult cancer survivors (n = 86) were randomly assigned to the FITNET or SC group. All participants were asked to complete self-administered online questionnaires at baseline and after 12 weeks.


Seventy-seven percent of participants completed postintervention assessments, and most participants reported using intervention components as intended. Participants in both groups would recommend the program to other young adult cancer survivors (FITNET, 46.9 vs. SC, 61.8 %; p = 0.225). Over 12 weeks, both groups increased self-reported weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (FITNET, 67 min/week (p = 0.009) vs. SC, 46 min/week (p = 0.045)), with no significant difference between groups. Increases in light PA were 135 min/week greater in the FITNET group relative to the SC group (p = 0.032), and the FITNET group reported significant weight loss over time (−2.1 kg, p = 0.004; p = 0.083 between groups).


Facebook-based intervention approaches demonstrated potential for increasing PA in young adult cancer survivors.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Social networking sites may be a feasible way for young adult cancer survivors to receive health information and support to promote PA and healthy behaviors.


Young adults Cancer survivors Physical activity Social networking site Randomized trial Intervention 



This study was supported by a 2011 Society of Behavioral Medicine Distinguished Student Award for Excellence in Research, the UNC Lineberger Cancer Control Education Program (NCI funded; R25 CA057726), the UNC Communications for Health Applications and Interventions Core (funded through Gillings School of Global Public Health Nutrition Obesity Research Center (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded; P30 DK56350), the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCI funded; P30 CA16086)), and the National Center for Research Resources (UL1 RR025747). At the time of the study, the first author was supported by a Multi-Year Royster Fellowship from the UNC Graduate School. The authors would like to acknowledge the memory of Dr. Marci Campbell who made substantial contributions to the conception and design of the study and created a legacy that will live on. We also thank Dr. Dianne Ward for her expertise and insightful comments on a draft of this manuscript. We wish to acknowledge Dr. Carey Anders, Dr. William Wood, the community-based organizations, LIVESTRONG, and members of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance that graciously assisted with study recruitment. Finally, we are most grateful to the young adult cancer survivors who participated in the study.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmina G. Valle
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Deborah F. Tate
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Deborah K. Mayer
    • 2
    • 4
  • Marlyn Allicock
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianwen Cai
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.School of NursingUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biostatistics, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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