Bridging the gap: a pre-post feasibility study of embedding exercise therapy into a co-located cancer unit

Amy M. Dennett, Bernadette Zappa, Rachel Wong, Stephen B. Ting, Kimberley Williams, Casey L. Peiris

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To establish the feasibility of embedding a flexible, exercise-based rehabilitation program into a cancer treatment unit to allow cancer survivors early exercise support. Method: A pre-post study was conducted using Bowen’s Framework to describe key domains of feasibility: demand (referrals), acceptability (uptake, attendance, satisfaction), implementation (resources), practicality (adverse events, costs) and limited-efficacy (function, quality of life, self-efficacy). Participants were medically stable, adult cancer survivors receiving curative or palliative treatment for cancer at the health service. Participants completed an 8-week home or hospital-based exercise program. Data were analysed descriptively. Standardised mean differences (Hedge’s g) and mean differences were calculated to determine effect size and clinical significance. Results: The exercise-based rehabilitation service received 155 referrals over 6 months. Of those eligible, 73/119 (61%) commenced. Participants opting for twice-weekly, hospital-based exercise attended 9/16 (56%) sessions. Participants reported high satisfaction and there were no major adverse events. The program utilised existing resources, with the predominant cost being staff. The average health service cost per participant was AUD $1,104. Participants made clinically significant gains in function (6-min walk distance; + 73 m, 95% confidence interval 49 to 96) and quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30 Global quality of life; + 8 units, 95% confidence interval 3 to 13). Conclusion: Implementation of exercise-based rehabilitation in a co-located cancer unit was safe and feasible. Access, patient and staff education and establishing funding streams are important implementation considerations. Implications for cancer survivors Access to exercise in a cancer unit provides opportunity for early intervention to optimise function during treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6701–6711
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Exercise
  • Referrals
  • Rehabilitation
  • Survivorship

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