BACKGROUND: There are significant geographic inequalities in cancer survival with poorer survival rates in non-metropolitan areas compared to major cities. Physical activity (PA) can reduce cancer recurrence and prevent cardiovascular disease. However, few survivors participate in sufficient PA and the prevalence of inactivity is significantly higher in non-metropolitan survivors. The study investigated non-metropolitan survivors' recollections regarding PA advice received following cessation of active treatment, their knowledge of PA guidelines, and the factors that impact on PA behaviour change.
METHOD: Sixteen individuals (14 women and 2 men) with breast (n = 8), endometrial (n = 4) or colorectal cancer (n = 4), with a mean age of 60 years (SD = 12) completed semi-structured interviews as part of a larger study to examine the acceptability and utility of wearable trackers to increase PA. Interviews explored survivors' recollections regarding the advice they received concerning PA following active treatment, knowledge of PA guidelines for cancer survivors and the influences on PA behaviour change. Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Four main themes emerged: (i) insufficient knowledge of guidelines, (ii) support from the treating oncology team, (iii) external accountability, and (iv) barriers to PA.
CONCLUSIONS: Survivors' knowledge of PA guidelines was limited and they did not often recall their oncologists making specific recommendations concerning PA. Survivors' referred to the desire for accountability and monitoring in order to successfully change PA. Lack of motivation was the main barrier to PA participation. Other barriers included age, health status, and lack of facilities or exercise programs.