Expectations and Experiences of Participating in a Supervised and Home-Based Physical Exercise Intervention in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer during Chemoradiotherapy: A Qualitative Study.


(1) Background: Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for head and neck cancer (HNC) is associated with severe toxicity resulting in fatigue and weight loss, including loss of skeletal muscle mass. Exercise interventions might positively affect physical fitness and quality of life. Sufficient adherence and compliance rates are necessary for optimal effects. This study aimed to gain insight into expectations and experiences and factors influencing adherence, retention and compliance of HNC patients participating in exercise intervention during CRT. (2) Methods: Consecutive participants were invited for semi-structured interviews, conducted pre- and post-intervention. A deductive approach was used to identify themes and factors influencing adherence, retention and compliance. (3) Results: Thematic saturation was reached after interviewing 14 patients pre-intervention. Five themes were identified: planning and time management, treatment toxicity, motivation to exercise, exercise intervention and supervision by a physiotherapist. The intensity of the treatment schedule and treatment toxicity were important barriers. Facilitators mentioned were physical and emotional benefits, social support as well as the simplicity and home-based setting of the intervention. (4) Conclusions: A personalised approach, considering the individual facilitators and barriers of HNC patients, is important to increase adherence, retention and compliance to exercise intervention and to reap the optimal effects of the program.

More about this publication

Current oncology (Toronto, Ont.)
  • Volume 31
  • Issue nr. 2
  • Pages 885-899
  • Publication date 04-02-2024

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