Enhancing an oncologist’s recommendation to exercise to manage fatigue levels in breast cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Fatigue is a troublesome symptom for breast cancer patients, which might be mitigated with exercise. Cancer patients often prefer their oncologist recommend an exercise program, yet a recommendation alone may not be enough to change behavior. Our study determined whether adding an exercise DVD to an oncologist’s recommendation to exercise led to better outcomes than a recommendation alone. Methods: Ninety breast cancer patients, at varying phases of treatment and stages of disease, were randomized to receive the following: an oncologist verbal recommendation to exercise (REC; n = 43) or REC plus a cancer-specific yoga DVD (REC + DVD; n = 47). Fatigue, vigor, and depression subscales of the Profile of Mood States, and physical activity levels (MET-min/week), exercise readiness, and self-efficacy were assessed at baseline, 4, and 8 weeks. Analyses controlled for age, time since diagnosis, and metastatic disease. Results: Over 8 weeks, women in REC + DVD used the DVD an average of twice per week. The REC + DVD group had greater reductions in fatigue (− 1.9 ± 5.0 vs. − 1.0 ± 3.5, p = 0.02), maintained exercise readiness (− 0.1 ± 1.1 vs. − 0.3 ± 1.3; p = 0.03), and reported less of a decrease in physical activity (− 420 ± 3075 vs. − 427 ± 5060 MET-min/week, p = 0.06) compared to REC only. Conclusions: A low-cost, easily distributed, and scalable yoga-based DVD could be a simple booster to an oncologist’s advice that motivates breast cancer patients, even those with advanced disease and/or in treatment, to engage in self-care, e.g., exercise, to manage fatigue. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03120819

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sep 30 2017



  • Behavior change
  • Cancer survivor
  • Physical activity
  • Self-management
  • Symptom management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

Cite this