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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating physical activity communication breast cancer survivors receive from their oncology providers Fitzpatrick, Kayla Marie


Physical activity (PA) has been shown to combat the negative side effects (e.g., fatigue, pain, depression) often faced by breast cancer (BC) survivors following BC treatment. Several studies have demonstrated that physician promoted PA significantly improves PA participation among BC survivors; however, it is rare that oncology providers recommend or provide advice about PA to survivors. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the PA communication oncology providers relay to their patients, and to investigate the relationship between this communication and the PA levels of BC survivors. This study was exploratory in nature and used a cross-sectional design. Participants (n=60) were self-identified BC survivors, 18 years or older, and lived in the Okanagan Region of British Columbia, Canada. The adapted, 30-item Oncology Provider Physical Activity Communication (OPPAC) questionnaire was used to assess participants’ perceptions concerning PA communication and advice they receive from their oncology provider. PA was assessed using accelerometers. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and one-way ANOVA’s were conducted to assess the relationship between PA communication and PA levels. A small proportion of participants (20%) indicated that their oncology provider recommended PA, and only 11.7% indicated that their oncology provider referred them to an exercise professional. Upon further evaluation, data revealed that those who were asked about their PA routines by their oncology provider (35%) had significantly higher PA levels (P=0.038) compared to BC survivors who were not asked. Qualitative results showed that the majority (89%) of survivors thought PA should be a part of treatment. The findings suggest that the PA communication BC survivors receive from their oncology provider is limited; however, a positive relationship does exists between oncology provider communication and minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity per week. Establishing effective and efficient ways to assist oncology providers with integrating PA promotion into their practice is needed.

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