Rationale: The goal of this study was to examine oncologists' attitudes towards recommending exercise to patients with cancer during treatment.
Patients and methods: Using a national survey, all 659 practicing medical and radiation oncologists in Canada were sent a brief questionnaire.
Results: The response rate was 46% (281/610). The majority of oncologists agreed that exercise was beneficial (62.0%), important (55.8%) and safe (63.1%) for patients with cancer during treatment. Forty-three percent of oncologists reported that they tried to recommend exercise to their patients when appropriate. Moreover, oncologists actually reported recommending exercise to 28% of their patients during the past month. Analyses also indicated significant differences between oncologists, with younger, female, and medical oncologists generally having more favorable attitudes towards exercise for patients with cancer than their older, male, and radiation oncology counterparts.
Conclusions: Oncologists have a favorable attitude toward recommending exercise to patients with cancer although several important barriers may prevent oncologists from providing exercise advice to their patients. Further research is required evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and strategies designed to improve oncologists' confidence and ability to advise their patients on exercise during oncology consultations.