A longitudinal implementation evaluation of a physical activity program for cancer survivors: LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA

Implement Sci Commun. 2020 Jul 8;1:63. doi: 10.1186/s43058-020-00051-3. eCollection 2020.


Purpose: Increased physical activity (PA) levels in cancer survivors are associated with decreased risk of recurrence and mortality as well as additional positive health outcomes. PA interventions have shown to be efficacious, though many lack translation to and sustainability in community settings. We used dimensions of the RE-AIM framework to evaluate LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, a nation-wide community-based PA program for cancer survivors delivered at Ys.

Methods: This was a longitudinal study design using national LIVESTRONG at the YMCA data compiled between 2010 and 2018. Data is from all YMCAs who deliver LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, submitted by Program Directors to the YMCA-USA. We assessed reach (number of participants), adoption (associations offering the program), implementation (conducting 3 fidelity checks), and organizational level maintenance (associations recently offering program). We also examined relationships between organizational characteristics (years of program existence and association area household income) and program implementation factors with member conversion rates.

Results: As of 2018, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA has reached 62,044 survivors and 245 of the 840 (29.2%) of Y associations have adopted the program. Among the adopters, 91% were aware of fidelity checks; implementation of observational (62.3%), goal setting (49.9%), and functional (64.6%) checklists varied. Most (95.1%) adopters reported offering ≥ 1 LIVESTRONG session per year (organizational-level maintenance) and a facility-level mean membership conversion percentage of 46.9 ± 31.2%. Fewer years implementing the program and higher association area household income were significantly associated with a greater membership conversion rate vs their comparison. In a multiple regression model controlling for organizational characteristics, conducting the fidelity checks independently (observational, β = 8.41; goal-setting, β = 9.70; and functional, β = 9.61) and collectively (β = 10.82; 95% CI 5.90-16.80) was positively associated with higher membership conversion rates.

Conclusions: LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, in its early years, has shown promise for high reach, while adoption at more associations could be facilitated. Implementing fidelity checks along with organizational characteristics were associated with membership conversion rate. Identification of association-level strategies to increase reach, adoption, implementation, and maintenance may increase the impact of this community-based PA program.

Keywords: Cancer; Community-based; Evaluation; Implementation; Physical activity.