Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from IJBNPA and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Determinants of exercise adherence and maintenance among cancer survivors: a systematic review

Caroline S Kampshoff1, Femke Jansen12, Willem van Mechelen1, Anne M May3, Johannes Brug4, Mai JM Chinapaw1 and Laurien M Buffart4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public and Occupational Health, and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Julius Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

4 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:80  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-80

Published: 2 July 2014


For an exercise intervention to be successful, it is important that cancer survivors adhere to the prescribed program. To be able to improve adherence and to preserve achieved beneficial effects, insights into the relevant and modifiable determinants is important. Therefore, we aimed to systematically review determinants of exercise adherence and maintenance in cancer survivors using a socio-ecological approach.

Studies were identified in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO and SPORTDiscus up to July 2013. We included full-text articles that: 1) were conducted among adult cancer survivors; 2) quantitatively assessed factors associated with intervention adherence and maintenance, and 3) were published in English. The methodological quality of the selected studies was examined. A best evidence synthesis was applied.

Eighteen studies were included. Median methodological quality was 53% and ranged from 21-78% of maximum score. Twelve studies focused on determinants of exercise adherence and evaluated 71 potential determinants: 29 demographic and clinical, 27 psychological, ten physical, four social factors, and one environmental factor. Six studies focused on determinants of exercise maintenance after completion of an intervention, and investigated 63 factors: 22 demographic and clinical, 28 psychosocial, nine physical, three social and one environmental factor. We found moderate evidence for a positive association between exercise history and exercise adherence. Inconsistent findings were found for age, gender and education as well as for psychological factors such as stage of change, perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, extraversion, attitude, intention, fatigue, and quality of life, and physical factors including cardiovascular fitness, body mass index, and baseline physical activity.

Exercise history is positively associated with exercise adherence. Future trials should further study the influence of social and environmental determinants on exercise adherence and maintenance in addition to demographic, psychological and physical determinants.

Physical activity; Exercise; Intervention adherence; Determinants; Neoplasms; Behavior; Systematic review