Physical activity (PA) levels play an important role in maintaining the quality of life and enhancing the physical function of advanced cancer patients. A brief exercise prompt by physicians can increase PA levels of patients diagnosed with cancer. This study explores the views of Irish oncology and palliative care physicians towards PA for patients with advanced cancer.
A web-based survey with closed- and open-ended questions was used to explore physicians’ views. The survey presented a Likert-style questionnaire and open text responses to two patient case studies. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, and qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. Forty participants completed the study, a response rate of 41%. Responding physicians acknowledged the importance of physical activity for patients with advanced cancer. Twenty-six physicians (67%) agreed that patients look to them for PA recommendations and 30 physicians (77%) indicated a need for more information on providing PA recommendations. Case study responses highlighted concerns relating to PA prescription for patients with bone metastases including the aggravation of symptom control and increased fracture risk.
The results of this study identify a need for physician education on providing PA recommendations for patients with advanced cancer. Concerns over the prescription of PA to patients with bone metastases highlight the need to disseminate the evidence on the benefits of PA for patients with metastatic cancer to healthcare professionals.