Telephone counseling plus physician advice key to motivating breast cancer survivors to exercise

June 11, 2013, Lifespan

Telephone-based counseling, when combined with physician advice, can help breast cancer survivors become more physically active, which can improve quality of life and lessen the side effects of cancer treatment, according to new research from The Miriam Hospital.

Researchers say women who received exercise advice from their surgeon or oncologist, followed by three months of telephone support, reported 30 more minutes of physical activity per week than patients who received and follow-up calls about their general health.

The findings, published in the June issue of Health Psychology, reinforce the benefits of exercise in cancer recovery, including improved physical functioning. Physical activity has also been shown to reduce cancer-related fatigue and the risk for other , such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and osteoporosis.

" are followed by their health care providers for a long time after treatment, which presents many opportunities for providers to share advice about physical activity and other changes," said lead author Bernardine M. Pinto, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine.

She points out there are more than 11 million cancer survivors in the United States. "As survival rates improve, cancer is often viewed less as a death sentence and more as a chronic disease," said Pinto. "Cancer patients are interested in what they can do to improve their well-being, and getting advice from the care providers they see regularly can certainly help in adopting healthy lifestyles, including becoming physically active."

Telephone-based interventions to promote exercise in the general population have been successful, offering such unique advantages such as convenience and access. However, researchers say that previous interventions promoting exercise among cancer survivors did not involve health care providers and most studies to date have not assessed long-term physical activity outcomes.

Pinto and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 192 patients. In the study, oncologists and surgeons were asked to provide brief physical activity advice to patients who had completed treatment for Stage 0-IV breast cancer, including a recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week and scheduling follow-up with research staff..

The 106 women who were randomized to the telephone counseling group received eight telephone calls over 12 weeks from counselors who monitored and supported their physical activity efforts. The remaining 86 participants assigned to the control group received the same number and frequency of telephone calls that focused on their general health. All participants were assessed at baseline and again at three, six and 12 months .

Pinto and her team say patients in the telephone counseling group had considerably higher levels of physical activity and were almost twice as likely to meet national recommendations of 150 minutes per week of exercise three and six months later. Telephone counseling also significantly improved patients' motivational readiness throughout the 12-month study period, suggesting the potential for exercise promotion in cancer follow-up care.

Pinto notes this is the first trial that has included a role for the cancer provider and integrated advice about exercise into regular medical appointments.

"Our study clearly shows it's possible for motivated to provide brief advice to their patients during a follow-up visit," she said. "While we can't be sure physician advice alone would suffice, our results do suggest that health care provider advice will require supplementation, whether it's telephone counseling or some other mode of delivery, to support the adoption and maintenance of physical activity in cancer patients."

Explore further: Physically active health-care providers more likely to give physical activity counseling

Related Stories

Physically active health-care providers more likely to give physical activity counseling

March 22, 2013
Physically active healthcare providers were more likely than their inactive counterparts to advise patients to lead an active lifestyle in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, ...

Maintaining exercise when the cardiac rehab is complete

August 23, 2011
Researchers from The Miriam Hospital have found that patients who have completed cardiac rehabilitation and who receive telephone counseling that supports exercise are more likely to adhere to an exercise program. Results ...

Rural living presents health challenges for cancer survivors

June 5, 2013
Cancer survivors who live in rural areas aren't as healthy as their urban counterparts, according to new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

For cancer survivors, diet distresses while exercise inspires

June 7, 2013
While some cancer survivors feel distressed about diet and body weight, exercise helps them feel they are taking back control of their health, Cornell researchers report in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior ...

Study shows confidence builds better exercise habits for cancer survivors

March 8, 2013
Endometrial cancer survivors are more likely to complete physical activity, and for longer durations, when their daily self-efficacy is higher, according to a study published online in the journal Health Psychology – a ...

Interventions helpful for breast cancer-induced menopause

October 11, 2012
(HealthDay)—Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and physical exercise improve endocrine and urinary symptoms as well as physical functioning in patients with breast cancer treatment-induced menopause, according to research ...

Recommended for you

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.