Perspective of older African-American and Non-Hispanic white breast cancer survivors from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds toward physical activity: A qualitative study

Cynthia Owusu, Elizabeth Antognoli, Nora Nock, Paul Hergenroeder, Kristina Austin, Elizabeth Bennet, Nathan A. Berger, Stephen Cerne, Katelyn Foraker, Kevin Heine, Ellen Heyman, Halle Moore, Jean Petkac, Mark Schluchter, Kathryn H. Schmitz, Anastasia Whitson, Sue Flocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to explore the perspective of older breast cancer survivors (BCS) from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds toward physical activity (PA) to inform the design of a PA program that fosters acceptability. Methods: Participants included sixty women, ≥ 65 years, within two years of treatment completion for stage I-III breast cancer. We purposely sampled ≥ ten patients in each race [African-American (AA) and Non-Hispanic White (NHW)] and socioeconomic status (SES) [SES disadvantaged and SES non-disadvantaged] group. Participants completed in-person interviews (n = 60) and follow-up focus groups (n = 45). Thematic analyses were employed. Results: The median age was 71.0 years (range: 65–87 years). Five themes emerged: 1) importance of PA; 2) current PA participants engaged in; 3) influence of race and culture on PA attitudes and beliefs; 4) barriers to PA and facilitators to PA; and 5) PA preferences. Barriers included health issues (43%), particularly cancer treatment side effects such as fatigue. Facilitators included religious faith (38%) and family (50%). Preferences included group exercise (97%) and strength training (80%) due to concerns participants had with diminished upper body strength after cancer treatment. Although AA (59%) and SES non-disadvantaged (78%) participants reported that race and culture influenced their attitudes toward PA, it did not translate to racial and SES differences in preferences. Conclusion: Among older BCS, physical activity preferences were shaped by cancer experience, rather than by race and SES. Physical activity programs for older BCS should focus on addressing cancer treatment-related concerns and should include strength training to ensure PA programs are more acceptable to older BCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geriatric Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • African-American
  • Breast cancer
  • older
  • physical activity
  • preferences
  • qualitative
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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