Exercise Promotion and Distress Reduction Using a Mobile App-Based Community in Breast Cancer Survivors

Front Oncol. 2020 Jan 10;9:1505. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2019.01505. eCollection 2019.


Physical activity (PA) enhancement and mental distress reduction are important issues in cancer survivorship care. Mobile technology, as an emerging method for changing health behaviors, is gaining attention from many researchers. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a mobile app-based community on enhancing PA and decreasing distress in breast cancer survivors. We conducted a non-randomized, prospective, interventional study that had a mobile community-later arm and mobile community-first arm. With an Android smartphone app (WalkON®), daily walk steps and weekly distress scores using app-based Distress Thermometer (DT) questionnaires were collected from participants for about 12 weeks. To examine the difference in weekly step counts before and during the community activity, we used a paired t-test method. For a comparative analysis, we referred to a previous prospective observational study without a mobile community intervention that had the same setting as the present study. After propensity score matching (PSM), multivariable regression modeling with difference-in-difference (DID) was performed to estimate the effect of the mobile app-based community on PA and mental distress. From January to August 2018, a total of 64 participants were enrolled in this study. In the univariate analysis, after participation in the mobile community, the participants showed a significant increase in total weekly steps (t = -3.5341; P = 0.00208). The mean of the differences was 10,408.72 steps. In the multivariate analysis after PSM, the mobile community significantly increased steps by 8,683.4 per week (p value <0.0001) and decreased DT scores by 0.77 per week (p value = 0.009) in the mixed effect model. In the two-way fixed effect model, the mobile community showed a significant increase in weekly steps by 8,723.4 (p value <0.0001) and decrease in weekly DT by 0.73 (p value = 0.013). The mobile app-based community is an effective and less resource-intensive tool to increase PA and decrease distress in breast cancer survivors. Trial Registration: NCT03190720, NCT03072966.

Keywords: breast neoplasms; exercise; mobile applications; psychological stress; quality of life; smartphone; survivorship; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03190720
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03072966