Self-reported physical activity behaviour; exercise motivation and information among Danish adult cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2009 Apr;13(2):116-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Background: Physical activity is considered an important and determining factor for the cancer patient's physical well-being and quality of life. However, cancer treatment may disrupt the practice of physical activity, and the prevention of sedentary lifestyles in cancer survivors is imperative.

Purpose: The current study aimed at investigating self-reported physical activity behaviour, exercise motivation and information in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Methods and sample: Using a cross-sectional design, 451 patients (18-65 years) completed a questionnaire assessing pre-illness and present physical activity; motivation and information received.

Results: Patients reported a significant decline in physical activity from pre-illness to the time in active treatment (p<0.001). Amongst the respondents, 68% answered that they believed exercise to be beneficial; and 78% claimed not exercising as much as desired. Exercise barriers included fatigue (74%) and physical discomfort (45%). Present physical activity behaviour was associated with pre-illness physical activity behaviour (p<0.001), exercise belief (p<0.001), and diagnosis (p<0.001). More patients <40 years than patients >40 years (OR 0.36, p<0.001); more men than women (OR 2.12, p<0.001); and more oncological than haematological patients (OR 0.41, p<0.001) stated being informed about physical activity. Moreover patients who claimed to have been informed about exercise were more in agreement with being able to exercise while undergoing chemotherapy (OR 1.69, p=0.023).

Conclusions: This study suggests that Danish adult cancer patients in chemotherapy experience a significant decline in physical activity behaviour. Results indicate a general positive interest in physical activity amongst the patients, which however may be only suboptimally exploited.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires