Elderly cancer survivors with higher baseline self-efficacy for performing strength and endurance exercise may benefit from home-based lifestyle counseling, a new study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Because the number of older cancer survivors is increasing, researchers led by Miriam C. Morey, PhD, of the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging/Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, sought to evaluate trajectories of physical activity and physical function over a 2-year lifestyle counseling study and to identify characteristics of those that would benefit.

For the Reach Out to Wellness study, 641 participants age 65 or older who were overweight and long-term community-dwelling survivors of breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer were randomly assigned to an immediate intervention or a 12-month-waitlisted control arm.

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Results showed that baseline body mass index and self-efficacy for performing strength and endurance exercises were the strongest predictors of achieving the highest level of physical activity and the most favorable physical functional trajectory over the 2-year period.

On the other hand, researchers found that patients with low baseline self-efficacy, no physical activity, and low physical function did not benefit from the intervention.

“This study identified characteristics of survivors who benefited from home-based interventions and suggested alternative approaches for survivors requiring more structured and intensive interventions to promote behavioral changes,” the authors concluded.


1. Morey MC, Blair CK, Sloane R, et al. Group trajectory analysis helps to identify older cancer survivors who benefit from distance-based lifestyle interventions [published online ahead of print on October 29, 2015].

Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29684.