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The Effect of a Community-Based Exercise Intervention on Symptoms and Quality of Life

Knobf, M. Tish PhD, RN; Thompson, A. Siobhan MPH; Fennie, Kristopher PhD; Erdos, Diane MSN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e318288d40e
Articles: Online Only

Background: Moderate-intensity physical activity in women with breast cancer has been reported to improve physical and psychological outcomes. However, initiation and adherence to a routine physical activity program for cancer survivors after therapy may be challenging.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and effect of a community-based exercise intervention on physical and psychological symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer survivors.

Methods: A 1-group pretest-posttest design was used to evaluate a thrice weekly, 4- to 6-month supervised exercise intervention on symptoms and quality of life. Data were collected at baseline and end of the intervention, using the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Checklist, the Symptom Distress Scale, the Centers for Epidemiology Scale for Depression, and the Medical Outcomes Short Form.

Results: There were 26 participants, with a mean (SD) age of 51.3 (6.2) years; most were married, well educated, and employed. The intervention was delivered at 3 community fitness centers, and adherence ranged from 75% to 98%. Vasomotor, musculoskeletal, and cognitive symptoms were common, but only muscle stiffness, fatigue, and depression significantly changed over time (P = .04, .05, and .01, respectively). Quality of life improved significantly in the areas of physical, emotional, and social function; pain; vitality; and mental health.

Conclusions: Providing an exercise intervention in the community where women live and work is feasible and improves physical, psychological, and functional well-being.

Implications for Practice: Exercise is a key component of cancer rehabilitation and needs to be integrated into our standard care.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Dr Knobf and Mss Thompson and Erdos); and School of Public Health, Florida International University, Miami (Dr Fennie).

This study was supported in part by the American Cancer Society Professorship in Oncology Nursing, NIH/National Institute Nursing Research 1P20NR07806-01, and by Clinical and Translational Science Award Grant Number UL1 RR024139 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NCRR or NIH.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: M. Tish Knobf, PhD, RN, School of Nursing Yale University, 100 Church St S, New Haven, CT 06536-0740 (

Accepted for publication January 17, 2013.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins