CanWell: meeting the psychosocial and exercise needs of cancer survivors by translating evidence into practice

Psychooncology. 2014 Feb;23(2):204-15. doi: 10.1002/pon.3389. Epub 2013 Sep 6.


Background: As more evidence emerges to support the incorporation of exercise for cancer survivors to positively affect physical, emotional, and social health, it is imperative that health-care providers use current knowledge to develop evidence-based exercise programs for these patients. Our purpose is to describe the development, implementation, and effectiveness of the CanWell program, an evidence-based, community and partnership-based, exercise, and education program for all people with cancer.

Methods: Exercise and cancer research was reviewed, summarized, and utilized to develop CanWell. A 12-week, supervised, community-based, exercise, and education program established in collaboration between an acute care hospital, academic center, and a not-for-profit YMCA facility. CanWell participants completed physical and health-related quality of life measures prior to initiating the program and repeated them at 6 and 12 weeks.

Results: Following the exercise program, participants reported significant improvements in health-related quality of life, recorded distance ambulated during a 6-min walk test, and total minutes on a treadmill recorded using the standardized exponential exercise protocol treadmill test. Furthermore, no increases in disease burden were identified using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System. In addition, no exercise related injuries were reported by CanWell participants.

Conclusions: As the body of evidence supporting the incorporation of exercise as a standard of care for cancer survivors, it is imperative that care providers use current knowledge to provide opportunities for their patients to exercise in effective exercise programs. CanWell is an example on how collaboration between hospital, university, and community institutions can be used to move research into practice and meet the needs of cancer survivors.

Keywords: cancer; community; evidence-based; exercise; oncology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Evidence-Based Practice*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*