Physical Activity Correlates, Barriers, and Preferences for Women With Gynecological Cancer

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Abstract

Objective

Physical activity is associated with improved health outcomes for people with cancer. We aimed to identify physical activity correlates, barriers, and preferences among women with gynecological cancer.

Methods and Materials

A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 101 women diagnosed with gynecological cancer (mostly ovarian cancer [59%] and endometrial cancer [23%]) within the previous 2 years, at 2 major hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Physical activity was measured for the past 7 days. Thirteen potential barriers were scored on a 5-point scale. Associations with physical activity were assessed using Spearman correlations (rs) and multivariate logistic regression.

Results

Factors associated with being sufficiently active (≥150 min/wk physical activity) were being in the follow-up phase of the cancer trajectory (odds ratio [OR], 7.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 33.4 compared with other phases) and prediagnosis physical activity (OR, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 18.5 for the highest vs lowest tertile). The most common barriers were “too tired” and “not well enough,” and both were associated with lower physical activity (rs, −0.20 and −0.22, respectively). The odds of having disease-specific barriers was higher for women with ovarian cancer (OR, 4.6; P = 0.04) and women receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy (OR, 8.3; P = 0.008). “Lack of interest” (rs, −0.26) and “never been active” (rs, −0.23) were also inversely correlated with physical activity, although less common. Forty-three percent of women indicated that they were extremely or very interested to have a one-to-one session with an exercise physiologist. Participants’ preferred time of starting a physical activity program was 3 to 6 months after treatment (26%) or during treatment (23%). Walking was the preferred type of physical activity.

Conclusions

Strategies to increase physical activity among women with gynecological cancer should include a focus on reducing disease-specific barriers and target women who have done little physical activity in the past or who are in the treatment phases of care.

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