Exercise in African American and White Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A Mixed-Methods Approach

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African American (AA) colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors tend to be more obese and less physically active than white survivors.


To test the feasibility of an aerobic exercise program as well as explore perceptions about supervised exercise among AA CRC survivors.


A prospective supervised exercise intervention performed on a cycle ergometer 2 d/wk for 12 weeks. Peak (




O2peak) and submaximal exercise (Six-Minute Walk Test [6MWT]) along with questionnaires (36-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-36], Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Bowel Function Instrument [BFI], Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Colorectal (FACT-C) and Fatigue (FACIT-F), and Brief Symptom Inventory [BSI]). A second group of survivors participated in an interview evaluating perceptions regarding exercise.


Prospective case series and qualitative interview.


Research university and academic medical center.


AA and white CRC survivors.


Quantitative: A total of 237 letters were mailed to CRC survivors (112 whites, 126 AAs). From the letters, 25 whites and 15 AAs expressed interest; only 5 whites (4.5%) and 4 AAs (3.2%) enrolled. Two AA and 5 white survivors (7/9) finished the program. There was an improvement in peak exercise (P = .011) and quality of life (QOL) (SF-36 total, P = .035) posttraining. Qualitative: 30 CRC survivors (12 AAs and 18 whites) participated in qualitative interviews and selected comorbidity, motivation, and location as primary barriers to exercise.


Small sample size.


Recruiting CRC survivors (regardless of race) into an exercise program is challenging; however, there are exercise and QOL benefits associated with participation. Barriers to exercise are similar between AA and white CRC survivors.

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