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Support Care Cancer. 2019 Apr;27(4):1153-1162. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-04669-5. Epub 2019 Feb 6.

Physical activity programs for children diagnosed with cancer: an international environmental scan.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Institute of Cardiology and Sports Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Sports Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Alberta Health Services, Cancer Care, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Physical activity programs for children diagnosed with cancer may enhance health and quality of life. However, it is unknown where and in what capacity such programs are being offered internationally.


To identify physical activity programs for children diagnosed with cancer and summarize program characteristics.


Five data sources were searched to identify physical activity programs offered to children diagnosed with cancer. Following confirmation of eligibility, correspondents were sent a series of open-ended questions via email. Data were extracted from responses and summarized descriptively and narratively.


Of the 140 unique correspondents contacted, 46 programs, in 10 countries, met eligibility criteria. Responses to open-ended follow-up questions were obtained from 36 programs and were subsequently included in the content analysis. Internationally, the majority of programs are being offered to children in Europe, with mixed cancer types, at different stages of the cancer trajectory. There is relatively equal distribution with regard to the setting in which programs are offered (i.e., community, hospital, combination). All correspondents reported that their program is professionally supervised, and most require that children obtain medical clearance prior to participating. There is considerable variability in terms of other key program (e.g., funding) and physical activity characteristics (e.g., frequency).


Findings from this environmental scan highlight where and in what capacity physical activity programs are being offered, providing guidance for those seeking to develop/implement physical activity programs themselves. Moreover, results highlight the current state of practice, underscoring the necessity of international networks, multi-site collaborations, and public relations to ensure all children diagnosed with cancer have access to physical activity programs.


Community programs; Exercise; Knowledge translation; Oncology; Pediatric

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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