Patients’ views of physical activity whilst living with and beyond head and neck cancer


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Exercise is an important component of recovery following cancer. Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients typically report low levels of engagement in exercise initiatives. The aim of this study was to give insight as to HNC patients’ reflections on how and why they would be interested in participating in an exercise programme. A stratified sample of 51 patients based on age, gender and initial interest in an exercise programme was selected from 430 postal survey respondents. Twenty-five took part in a semi-structured telephone interview. There was responder bias with females, younger patients, those already participating in or interested in an exercise programme being over represented. The responders in this study highlighted issues related to physical activity levels, perceived ability to meet physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors, perceived exercise benefits, perceived exercise barriers, and advice to others diagnosed with cancer. The findings support the premise of personalised interventions tailored towards the specific needs of the patient, supported by patient peers to emphasise the benefits and help motivate patients to take part. In order to promote engagement in exercise there needs to be collaborative, culturally sensitive and individualised approaches, in order to address the specific barriers experienced by HNC patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2021


  • Exercise
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Physical activity
  • Semi-structured interview


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