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A Survey of Physical Activity Programming and Counseling Preferences in Young-Adult Cancer Survivors

Bélanger, Lisa J. MSc; Plotnikoff, Ronald C. PhD; Clark, Alexander PhD; Courneya, Kerry S. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e318210220a

Background: Few research studies have focused on physical activity in young-adult cancer survivors despite the potential long-term health consequences of inactivity in this population.

Objective: Understanding the unique physical activity programming and counseling preferences of young-adult cancer survivors may inform future research as well as nursing practice.

Methods: Participants were 588 young-adult cancer survivors (20–44 years old) who completed a mailed survey in the province of Alberta, Canada, that assessed physical activity preferences and standard demographic and medical variables.

Results: Most young-adult cancer survivors indicated that they were interested (78%) and able (88%) to participate in an activity program. Young-adult cancer survivors also preferred receiving activity counseling from a fitness expert at the cancer center (49.6%), information by brochure (64%), starting activity after treatment (64%), walking (51%), doing activity with others (49%), and doing activity at a community fitness center (46%). The χ 2 analyses indicated that younger cancer survivors (20–29 vs 30–39 vs 40–44 years) were less likely to prefer walking (P < .001), more interested in receiving information (P = .002), and more likely to prefer receiving information by e-mail (P = .044) or Internet (P = .006).

Conclusions: Young-adult cancer survivors show interest in receiving physical activity counseling. There were some consistent programming preferences, although other preferences varied by demographic and medical factors.

Implications for Practice: Nurses may play a key role in promoting physical activity in young-adult cancer survivors. Understanding the physical activity preferences of young-adult cancer survivors may help nurses make practical recommendations and referrals.

Author Affiliations: Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation (Ms Bélanger and Dr Courneya) and Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (Dr Clark); and Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle, Australia (Dr Plotnikoff).

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Kerry S. Courneya, PhD, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, E-488 Van Vliet Center, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H9 (

Accepted for publication January 12, 2011.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.