Physical activity and/or dietary interventions in breast cancer survivors: a systematic review of the maintenance of outcomes

J Cancer Surviv. 2013 Mar;7(1):74-82. doi: 10.1007/s11764-012-0246-6. Epub 2012 Nov 22.


Purpose: Maintaining physical activity and dietary improvements achieved during an intervention is important for the long-term health outcomes of breast cancer survivors. This review aimed to determine: (a) the proportion of physical activity and/or dietary intervention trials in breast cancer survivors that assessed post-intervention maintenance of outcomes, (b) the proportion of trials that achieved successful post-intervention maintenance of outcomes, and (c) the sample, intervention, and methodological characteristics common among trials that achieved successful post-intervention maintenance of outcomes.

Methods: A structured search of PubMed, CINAHL, Medline via Ovid, Web of Science, CENTRAL, and PsycInfo was conducted for articles published until March 2012. Included trials had to evaluate a randomized controlled trial of a physical activity and/or dietary behavior change intervention that targeted breast cancer survivors and report on between-group differences of behavioral outcomes at end-of-intervention and at least 3 months post-intervention follow-up. Methodological quality of included trials was also assessed.

Results: The search resulted in 1,298 publications. Of 63 identified trials that assessed end-of-intervention outcomes, 10 (16 %) assessed post-intervention maintenance of outcomes; four of these 10 trials achieved successful maintenance. Due to the limited number and heterogeneity of the four trials, few commonalities in sample, intervention, and methodological characteristics were identified.

Conclusion: Assessing post-intervention maintenance of physical activity and dietary outcomes in breast cancer survivors is rare. There is a pressing need to direct more attention to this issue to inform the development of interventions to improve the long-term health outcomes for the growing number of breast cancer survivors.

Implications for cancer survivors: For breast cancer survivors, maintaining regular physical activity and a healthy diet are important to enhancing health and well-being over the long-term. More research is needed to identify the best ways of supporting survivors to make and maintain these lifestyle changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Diet*
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors / psychology*