Physical Activity Programs for Adult Cancer Survivors in Atlantic Canada
Shea, Kelsey M.
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Although physical activity (PA) has been found to be a safe and effective way to mitigate many of the side-effects of cancer and cancer treatment, PA levels among cancer survivors remain low. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the attitudes and practices of oncology healthcare professionals in Atlantic Canada with respect to PA for cancer survivors. Cancer specific PA programs were also sought out. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with a purposefully selected sample of oncology healthcare professionals, administrators, and cancer-specific PA program leaders to examine the attitudes and practices of key stakeholders with respect to PA for cancer survivors, as well as identify and describe the available cancer-specific PA programs for cancer survivors in Atlantic Canada. Thirty participants, including 7 oncologists, 7 nurses, 6 allied healthcare professionals, 5 administrators, and 5 program leaders, completed an interview. Several themes emerged, including (1) support for but variable knowledge regarding PA for cancer survivors; (2) lack of PA discussions and counselling in the oncology setting; (3) competing priorities, lack of expertise, and lack of cancer-specific PA programming as barriers to PA discussions and counselling; (4) the addition of an exercise specialist to oncology healthcare teams as an enabler to discussions and counselling; (5) need for structured cancer-specific PA programming; (6) funding, program cost, lack of support and lack of awareness as barriers to PA programming; and (7) partnerships, referrals and awareness of programs as enablers to programming. The results of this study suggest that cancer survivors in Atlantic Canada may require additional resources and support with respect to PA throughout their cancer care journey. Limited PA discussions and counselling by healthcare providers with survivors also suggests a need for initiatives that will help to increase these practices.