Physical activity promotion among oncology nurses

Cancer Nurs. May-Jun 2012;35(3):E41-8. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31822d9081.


Background: Oncology nurses may be influential for providing physical activity guidance to cancer patients.

Objective: The purposes of this study were to examine physical activity promotion practices of oncology nurses and to explore nurses' perceived benefits of physical activity for cancer patients and barriers to physical activity promotion.

Methods: Two thousand e-mails were sent by a data service company to a random selection of oncology nurses throughout the United States with a link to a Web-based survey. To be eligible, nurses had to be currently seeing patients.

Results: Completed surveys were received from 274 oncology nurses. Most participants inquired about physical activity on at least some office visits (74.9%) and gave physical activity recommendations to 65.7% and 66.9% of on-treatment and posttreatment patients. "Lack of time" and that "patients are not interested" were the most prominent barriers identified by nurses, whereas perceived benefits for patients were rated favorably, with the exception of "reducing risk of recurrence." Almost all perceived benefits and barriers were correlated with physical activity promotion, with the strongest correlates being "unsure what to recommend" and "unsure that physical activity is safe."

Conclusions: Although most oncology nurses frequently inquire about patient physical activity, they may be less apt to provide recommendations. A number of barriers and perceived benefits may influence physical activity promotion, especially concerning what to recommend and patient safety.

Implications for practice: Oncology nurses would benefit from education opportunities about the benefits of physical activity for survival outcomes and types of physical activity to recommend.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Oncology Nursing*
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment