Physical exercise has been shown to enhance quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors using pretest-posttest designs and compared to usual care (i.e. no intervention). In the present study, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine if exercise could improve QOL in cancer survivors beyond the known benefits of group psychotherapy (GP). We matched 22 GP classes (N=108) on content and then randomly assigned 11 (n=48) to GP alone and 11 (n=60) to GP plus home-based, moderate-intensity exercise (GP+EX). Participants completed a physical fitness test and QOL measures (e.g. Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy scales) at the beginning and end of GP classes (about 10 weeks). We had excellent recruitment (81%), retention (89%), and adherence (84%) rates and a modest contamination (22%) rate. Using intention-to-treat repeated measures analyses of variance, we found significant Time by Condition interactions for functional well-being, fatigue, and sum of skinfolds. We also found borderline significant interactions for physical well-being, satisfaction with life, and flexibility. All interactions favored the GP+EX condition. We conclude that a home-based, moderate intensity exercise program may im-prove QOL in cancer survivors beyond the benefits of GP, particularly in relation to physical and functional well-being.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.