Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) reduces head and neck cancer (HNC) survival rates and is the most common, severe, and distressing symptom negatively impacting activities of daily living (ADLs) dependence among HNC patients. These patients remain physically inactive after their cancer treatment, although there is consensus that physical activity mitigates CRF in cancer patients.
A home-based personalized behavioral physical activity intervention with fitness graded motion exergames (PAfitME) was evaluated for its intervention components, intervention delivery mode, and intervention contact time/duration with initial assessment of the feasibility, acceptability, safety, and outcomes.
This study (N = 8) was a single-group, pre-post design to evaluate a 6-week PAfitME at the end of HNC treatment. Health outcomes were CRF, ADL dependence, and fitness performance. Behavioral outcomes were exergame adherence.
Positive health and behavioral outcomes support the PAfitME protocol including intervention components, intervention delivery mode, and intervention contact times/duration. The PAfitME intervention is feasible and acceptable with promising adherence rates. No adverse events were reported. There was marked improvement in CRF, ADL dependence, cardiorespiratory fitness, balance, muscle strength, and shoulder forward flexion, with large to moderate effect sizes as a result of the PAfitME intervention.
The PAfitME protocol is ready for additional testing in a randomized clinical trial.
Implications for Practice
The PAfitME intervention is a nurse-led nonpharmacological intervention. It can be integrated into home care or telehealth care for HNC patients at the end of their cancer treatment once effectiveness is established.