Use of consumer wearable devices to promote physical activity among breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors: a review of health intervention studies



A growing amount of research has successfully incorporated Fitbit devices and other wearable activity trackers into technology-oriented lifestyle interventions to increase physical activity among cancer survivors.


The present review of this literature is based upon bibliographic searches in PubMed and CINAHL and relevant search terms. Articles published in English from January 1, 2009, through October 16, 2019, were considered.


A total of 1726 article citations were identified in PubMed and non-duplicates in CINAHL. After screening the abstracts or full texts of these articles and reviewing the references of previous review articles, we found 13 studies that met the eligibility criteria. Of these, 8 were randomized controlled trials, one was a pre-post-test trial, and 4 were qualitative studies (focus groups, in-depth interviews). The studies focused on breast cancer (n = 8), prostate cancer (n = 2), and colorectal cancer (n = 1), and the remainder focused on more than one cancer site.


Additional research is needed to examine the efficacy of consumer wearable devices in promoting physical activity and weight management among cancer survivors.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Cancer survivors show an increase in physical activity when using consumer wearable activity trackers. Increased physical activity plays an important role in alleviating many adverse effects of breast cancer therapy as well as improving morbidity and mortality. Additional research such as clinical trials focused on the development of successful interventions utilizing these devices is warranted.

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Correspondence to Steven S. Coughlin.

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Coughlin, S.S., Caplan, L.S. & Stone, R. Use of consumer wearable devices to promote physical activity among breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors: a review of health intervention studies. J Cancer Surviv (2020).

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  • Cancer
  • Physical activity
  • Smartphone applications