The effect of a multidimensional exercise programme on symptoms and side-effects in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy--the use of semi-structured diaries

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2006 Sep;10(4):247-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2005.12.007. Epub 2006 Feb 14.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 6-week intervention with structured physical activity, relaxation, body-awareness techniques and massage on the symptoms/side-effects of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The study was prospective and exploratory, and 54 patients completed assessments for all 6 weeks of the intervention. In order to obtain a continuous record of side-effects, a diary was developed for the patients' use throughout the intervention. The patients scored their symptoms/side-effects on a scale from 0 to 4, using the Common Toxicity Criteria and reported these scores in questionnaires. Twelve possible symptoms/side-effects were registered daily: lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, paraesthesia, constipation, physical fatigue, mental fatigue, treatment-related fatigue, muscle pain, arthralgia and other pain. During the intervention a decrease in the scoring for 10 out of the 12 side-effects was found. Statistical significance was observed in the pain score (P=0.046) and the arbitrary-derived sum of the scores for symptoms and side-effects (P=0.036) respectively. Patients with evidence of disease (n=26) had significantly higher levels of symptoms/side-effects than patients with no evidence of disease (n=28) (P=0.027). The results indicate that a six weeks multidimensional exercise intervention undertaken by cancer patients with or without residual disease while undergoing chemotherapy can lead to a reduction in treatment-related symptoms.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Attitude to Health
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage
  • Mental Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Mental Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Paresthesia / chemically induced
  • Paresthesia / prevention & control
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antineoplastic Agents