What advice are oncologists and surgeons in the United Kingdom giving to breast cancer patients about physical activity?

Amanda Daley, Sarah Bowden, Daniel Rea, L Billingham, AR Carmicheal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: Evidence has shown that physical activity may attenuate the negative physical, psychological and functional effects of treatment in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Physical activity levels also decline substantially during and after completion of treatment for cancer, highlighting the importance of strategies to promote participation in regular physical activity in this population. Oncologists and surgeons may serve as an influential source of motivation to be physically activity in cancer patients, by conveying the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The primary purpose of the present study was to investigate whether oncologists and surgeons routinely discuss physical activity with their breast cancer patients and to investigate the nature of any information/advice provided during consultations. A secondary aim was to examine whether physically active oncologists and surgeons were more likely to provide advice about physical activity to patients, than inactive oncologists and surgeons. A brief postal questionnaire was sent to 710 consultant breast cancer oncologists and surgeons throughout the UK and 102 responded (response rate = 14.4%). Of responders, most (55.9%) did not routinely discuss physical activity with their patients. Amongst oncologists/surgeons (clinicians) who did offer advice, most focussed on discussing the benefits of physical activity for physical and functional health gains and for facilitating weight control and maintenance. A number of clinicians indicated they advised patients that physical activity may decrease risk of recurrence and improve survival, despite the lack of evidence from RCTs to support this suggestion. There was no significant association between the physical activity status of oncologists/surgeons and the likelihood that they discussed physical activity with patients. Educational strategies aimed at encouraging clinicians to promote physical activity in consultations need to be targeted widely amongst the cancer clinician community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46
Number of pages1
JournalThe International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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