Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Physical activity during cancer treatment: A survey of what Australian Cancer Health Professionals think (#412)

Jane Turner 1 , Haryana Dhillon 1 , Michael Marthick 2
  1. Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, Camperdown, NSW, Australia

Background:

Physical activity declines in people treated for cancer and for most exercise never returns to pre-diagnosis levels. Exercise reduces many symptoms and supports maintenance of physical function. Views of Australian oncology health about exercise in cancer patients throughout their disease trajectory are unknown.

Aim:

To document perceptions of Australian health professionals about exercise in people diagnosed with cancer undergoing treatment.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study design was used to survey Australian healthcare professionals. Members of cancer-related professional and research groups were emailed an invitation including a link to the survey (snowballing recruitment also used). Respondents completed the 50-item survey online. Here we report descriptive statistics.

Results:

While 439 started the survey, 392 completed some data (89% participation rate), across 17 disciplines (25% Allied Health, 23% nursing, 15% medical oncology). Most respondents were female (77%), from metropolitan areas (77%), 87% reported engaging in physical activity themselves. They had a mean of 16 years in practice (SD 10.4), and 42% treated all early stage cancers and 43% all advanced stage cancer types.

Majority of professionals agree PA is beneficial (73%), safe (62%) and important (71%) during cancer treatment. They believe their patients are capable of exercising (39%) and recommendations would be well received (44%). Exercise discussion lasting 1-5 minutes in consultations was reported by 42% of respondents; 30% refer to other exercise services in their hospital. Respondents agreed/strongly agreed with the following as barriers to exercise referrals: patients’ physical constraints 22%, patient financial constraints 21%, too much to discuss 18%.

Conclusion:

Australian oncology health professionals perceive exercise as beneficial, safe, and important to patients, but substantial barriers to them discussing and referring patients to exercise services.