A randomized trial to promote physical activity among breast cancer patients

Health Psychol. 2013 Jun;32(6):616-26. doi: 10.1037/a0029886.


Objective: Physical activity (PA) has been shown to provide health benefits for breast cancer patients. The effects of augmenting oncology health care provider (HCP) advice for PA with 3 months of telephone counseling versus contact control were evaluated in a randomized trial.

Methods: After receiving brief HCP advice to become physically active, 192 women (age in years: M = 60.0, SD = 9.9) who had completed treatment for Stage 0-IV breast cancer were randomized to telephone counseling to support PA (n = 106) or contact control (n = 86). Their PA, motivational readiness, fatigue, and physical functioning were assessed at baseline (before receiving HCP advice), 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results: Telephone counseling produced significant effects on the primary outcome of moderate-intensity PA of about 30 min/week at both 3 months (95% CI = 0.44, 57.32) and 6 months (95% CI = 3.06, 61.26). Intervention participants were also more than twice as likely as control participants to report improvements in achieving PA guidelines of at least 150 min/week at 3 (OR = 2.43, 95% CI = 1.18, 4.98) and 6 months (OR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.00-4.48). Telephone counseling was significantly more effective than contact control in increasing motivational readiness for PA at all follow-ups (ORs = 3.93-6.28, all ps <.003). No between-groups differences were found for fatigue, while differential improvements in physical functioning did not remain significant past 3 months (p = .01).

Conclusion: HCP advice plus telephone counseling improved PA among breast cancer patients at 3 and 6 months and also differentially improved patients' motivational readiness at all follow-ups, suggesting the potential for exercise promotion in cancer follow-up care.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00230711.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Directive Counseling / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Telephone
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00230711