The comparative effectiveness of a team-based versus group-based physical activity intervention for cancer survivors

Support Care Cancer. 2012 Aug;20(8):1699-707. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1263-0. Epub 2011 Sep 20.


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.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Regression Analysis
  • Ships*
  • South Carolina
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors*
  • Walking / physiology*