Understanding behavioral mechanisms for physical activity in head and neck cancer patients: a qualitative study

Martine Sealy, M.M. Stuiver, Julie Midtgard, Cees van der Schans, Jan L N Roodenburg, Harriët Jager-Wittenaar

Onderzoeksoutput: PosterAcademic

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Rationale: Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients often have adverse changes in body composition. Loss of muscle mass and strength frequently occur, even when dietary intake is adequate. Nascent evidence suggests that a healthy lifestyle, including adequate physical activity (PA) and diet, may prevent muscle wasting. HNC patients often show suboptimal health behavior pre-diagnosis, and additional barriers to PA can arise from cancer treatment. Better understanding of the behavioral mechanisms of PA in this mostly sedentary group is needed to design effective individualized PA-supporting interventions. This qualitative study explored the perspective of HNC patients on PA.
Methods: We conducted 9 semi-structured interviews in HNC patients, 6-8 weeks after treatment (surgery +/-(chemo)radiation). The interviews were guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) key concepts, including: attitude; social norm (with emphasis on role of healthcare professionals); self-efficacy; intention; barriers/facilitators, knowledge/skills; and current PA behaviour. Interviews were analysed by directed content analysis.
Results: Important themes identified for PA were: physical barriers, health as stimulus, role of habits, and lack of interest. While all themes could be fitted within the key concepts of TBP, there was little interaction between intention and other concepts. In fact, PA intention was not an explicit consideration for most patients.
Conclusion: HNC patients perceived physical barriers, health, habits, and lack of interest as important themes with regard to PA. Our tentative results suggest that the TPB may not be the most appropriate model for explaining PA in HNC patients. For future research aiming to understand PA in HNC patients, theories less focused on rational reasoning and more on autonomy, such as Self Determination Theory, may be better suited.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 8 sep. 2017
EvenementESPEN - The Hague, Netherlands
Duur: 9 sep. 201712 sep. 2017


StadThe Hague


  • kankerpatienten
  • bewegen (activiteit)


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