Physical activity among breast and prostate cancer survivors: Barriers, facilitators and maintenance following the FRESH START trial

Allison Ottenbacher, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Research provides evidence of the positive health effects associated with regular physical activity participation in all populations. Activity may prove to be especially beneficial in those with chronic conditions such as cancer. However, the majority of cancer patients and survivors do not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. The purpose of this dissertation was to identify factors associated with physical activity participation, describe how these factors change as result of a diet and exercise intervention, and to evaluate correlates of long term physical activity maintenance. For this dissertation, I analyzed data from the FRESH START trial, a randomized, single-blind, phase II clinical trial focused on improving diet and physical activity among recently diagnosed breast and prostate cancer survivors. Analyses included both parametric and non-parametric statistical tests. Three separate studies were conducted, with sample sizes ranging from 400 to 486. Common barriers to exercise, such as “no willpower,” “too busy,” and “I have pain,” were reported among breast and prostate cancer survivors; however, these barriers were not significantly associated with minutes of physical activity. Breast cancer survivors reported a greater number of total barriers to exercise as well as higher proportions reporting individual barriers, compared to prostate cancer survivors. Just less than half of participants reduced their total number of barriers to exercise from baseline to 1-year follow-up, and those who did reduce barriers reported greater increases in minutes of physical activity compared to those who reported no change in barriers to exercise. Participants in both the tailored and standardized intervention groups reported greater minutes of physical activity at 2-year follow-up compared to baseline. Overall, twelve percent of participants reached recommended levels of physical activity at both 1- and 2-year follow-up. Self-efficacy was positively associated with physical activity maintenance, and the number of total barriers to exercise was inversely associated with physical activity maintenance. Results from this dissertation are novel and informative, and will help to guide future physical activity interventions among cancer survivors. Thoughtfully designed interventions may encourage greater participation in physical activity and ultimately improve overall quality of life in this population.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Ottenbacher, Allison, "Physical activity among breast and prostate cancer survivors: Barriers, facilitators and maintenance following the FRESH START trial" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3427586.