Maintaining or increasing physical activity (PA) may prevent loss of muscle mass and strength after completion of head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment. However, the exercise level of HNC patients may not meet PA guidelines. We aimed to explore HNC survivors' views on PA, their report of PA, and to compare these with objectively measured PA. Combined qualitative and quantitative data of HNC survivors were explored post-treatment. Data from semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and objective measurements of PA were collected, analyzed, and integrated. This resulted in the identification of five themes related to prioritizing, day-to-day life, intention, positive feelings, and social support, respectively, in nine HNC survivors (male: n = 5; age: 52-67 years). Objectively measured PA levels were sedentary to low. The lack of intention to increase PA may be related to HNC survivors' perception that their current activity level is sufficient, despite low levels of measured PA. While some participants feel they need no help with PA, others are insecure about possible harms. Healthcare professionals may be able to help improve PA in HNC survivors with a tailored approach that reduces fear of harm and helps to incorporate higher intensity PA in daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • physical activity
  • head and neck cancer
  • mixed methods
  • perception
  • cancer survivors


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