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Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2009 Apr;13(2):116-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Self-reported physical activity behaviour; exercise motivation and information among Danish adult cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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  • 1The University Hospital's Centre for Nursing and Care Research (UCSF), Copenhagen University Hospital, Department 7331, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.



Physical activity is considered an important and determining factor for the cancer patient's physical well-being and quality of life. However, cancer treatment may disrupt the practice of physical activity, and the prevention of sedentary lifestyles in cancer survivors is imperative.


The current study aimed at investigating self-reported physical activity behaviour, exercise motivation and information in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.


Using a cross-sectional design, 451 patients (18-65 years) completed a questionnaire assessing pre-illness and present physical activity; motivation and information received.


Patients reported a significant decline in physical activity from pre-illness to the time in active treatment (p<0.001). Amongst the respondents, 68% answered that they believed exercise to be beneficial; and 78% claimed not exercising as much as desired. Exercise barriers included fatigue (74%) and physical discomfort (45%). Present physical activity behaviour was associated with pre-illness physical activity behaviour (p<0.001), exercise belief (p<0.001), and diagnosis (p<0.001). More patients <40 years than patients >40 years (OR 0.36, p<0.001); more men than women (OR 2.12, p<0.001); and more oncological than haematological patients (OR 0.41, p<0.001) stated being informed about physical activity. Moreover patients who claimed to have been informed about exercise were more in agreement with being able to exercise while undergoing chemotherapy (OR 1.69, p=0.023).


This study suggests that Danish adult cancer patients in chemotherapy experience a significant decline in physical activity behaviour. Results indicate a general positive interest in physical activity amongst the patients, which however may be only suboptimally exploited.

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