Purpose: Physical activity benefits cancer survivors, but the comparative effectiveness of a team-based delivery approach remains unexplored. The hypothesis tested was that a team-based physical activity intervention delivery approach has added physical and psychological benefits compared to a group-based approach. A team-based sport accessible to survivors is dragon boating, which requires no previous experience and allows for diverse skill levels.
Methods: In a non-randomized trial, cancer survivors chose between two similarly structured 8-week programs, a dragon boat paddling team (n = 68) or group-based walking program (n = 52). Three separate intervention rounds were carried out in 2007-2008. Pre-post testing measured physical and psychosocial outcomes.
Results: Compared to walkers, paddlers had significantly greater (all p < 0.01) team cohesion, program adherence/attendance, and increased upper-body strength. For quality-of-life outcomes, both interventions were associated with pre-post improvements, but with no clear-cut pattern of between-intervention differences.
Conclusions: These hypothesis-generating findings suggest that a short-term, team-based physical activity program (dragon boat paddling) was associated with increased cohesion and adherence/attendance. Improvements in physical fitness and psychosocial benefits were comparable to a traditional, group-based walking program. Compared to a group-based intervention delivery format, the team-based intervention delivery format holds promise for promoting physical activity program adherence/attendance in cancer survivors.