Demographic, clinical, lifestyle-related, and social-cognitive correlates of physical activity in head and neck cancer survivors

Laurien Buffart, Remco de Bree, Martine Altena, Sophie van der Werff, Constance Drossaert, Caroline Speksnijder, Michiel van den Brekel, , Harriët Jager-Wittenaar, Neil Aaronson, Martijn Stuiver

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The purpose of the study is to identify demographic, clinical, lifestyle-related, and social-cognitive correlates of physical activity (PA) intention and behavior in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors using the theory of planned behavior (TPB).

Data from two cross-sectional studies on correlates of PA in HNC survivors were pooled. Both studies used self-reports to assess PA and social-cognitive correlates. Potential correlates were collected via self-report or medical records. Univariable and multivariable multilevel linear mixed-effects models were built to identify correlates of PA intention and PA behavior (Z scores). Structural equation model analyses were conducted to study the full TPB model in one analysis, taking into account relevant covariates.

In total, 416 HNC survivors were surveyed. Their mean (SD) age was 66.6 (9.4) years; 64% were men, and 78% were diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. The structural equation model showed that PA intention was significantly higher in HNC survivors with a history of exercising, who had a more positive attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. Patients with higher PA intention, higher PBC, a lower age, and without unintentional weight loss or comorbidities had higher PA behavior. The model explained 22.9% of the variance in PA intention and 16.1% of the variance in PA behavior.

Despite significant pathways of the TPB model, the large proportion variance in PA intention and behavior remaining unexplained suggests the need for better PA behavior (change) models to guide the development of PA promotion programs, particularly for the elderly. Such programs should be tailored to comorbidities and nutritional status.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2017



  • cancer patients
  • physical activity

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