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Physical Activity Correlates, Barriers, and Preferences for Women With Gynecological Cancer
  1. Laal Farrokhzadi, MPhil, MPH,
  2. Haryana M. Dhillon, PhD, MA,
  3. Chris Goumas, MPH,
  4. Jane M. Young, MBBS, MPH, PHD, FAFPHM and
  5. Anne E. Cust, PhD, MPH (Hons)
  1. * Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Sydney School of Public Health,
  2. Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, and
  3. Concord Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney;
  4. § RPA Institute of Academic Surgery and Surgical Outcomes Research Centre (SOuRCe), Sydney Local Health District; and
  5. School of Public Health, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Anne Cust, PhD, MPH (Hons), Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research The Lifehouse, Level 6 – North 119-143, Missenden Rd, Camperdown, NSW 2050. E-mail: anne.cust{at}


Objective Physical activity is associated with improved health outcomes for people with cancer. We aimed to identify physical activity correlates, barriers, and preferences among women with gynecological cancer.

Methods and Materials A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 101 women diagnosed with gynecological cancer (mostly ovarian cancer [59%] and endometrial cancer [23%]) within the previous 2 years, at 2 major hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Physical activity was measured for the past 7 days. Thirteen potential barriers were scored on a 5-point scale. Associations with physical activity were assessed using Spearman correlations (r s) and multivariate logistic regression.

Results Factors associated with being sufficiently active (≥150 min/wk physical activity) were being in the follow-up phase of the cancer trajectory (odds ratio [OR], 7.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 33.4 compared with other phases) and prediagnosis physical activity (OR, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 18.5 for the highest vs lowest tertile). The most common barriers were “too tired” and “not well enough,” and both were associated with lower physical activity (r s, −0.20 and −0.22, respectively). The odds of having disease-specific barriers was higher for women with ovarian cancer (OR, 4.6; P = 0.04) and women receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy (OR, 8.3; P = 0.008). “Lack of interest” (r s, −0.26) and “never been active” (r s, −0.23) were also inversely correlated with physical activity, although less common. Forty-three percent of women indicated that they were extremely or very interested to have a one-to-one session with an exercise physiologist. Participants’ preferred time of starting a physical activity program was 3 to 6 months after treatment (26%) or during treatment (23%). Walking was the preferred type of physical activity.

Conclusions Strategies to increase physical activity among women with gynecological cancer should include a focus on reducing disease-specific barriers and target women who have done little physical activity in the past or who are in the treatment phases of care.

  • Gynecological cancer
  • Physical activity
  • Barriers
  • Survivorship
  • Preferences
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.