• exercise;
  • cancer;
  • self-management;
  • older survivors;
  • implementation;
  • oncology


Background: With increased breast cancer survivor rates among older women, the negative outcomes of breast cancer treatment may linger for years.

Method: We designed and implemented an oncologist referred, exercise self-management program to increase physical activity and health-related quality of life using a pretest–posttest, single group design. We recruited 34 breast cancer survivors seen for a follow-up oncology visit at two university cancer treatment centers. Women with a mean age of 59.6 years (S.D.=66) comprised the sample. Average time since diagnosed was 3.1 years; 45% had stage I breast cancer and 55% had stage II; 62% received chemotherapy and 59% received a mastectomy. Following a baseline assessment on exercise support, self-efficacy, barriers and benefits; quality of life; and a functional performance test, subjects participated in self-management classes and received telephone support. Participants (n=30) repeated the assessment at 6-months. We compared scores between time periods using t-tests.

Results: Older women increased frequency of weekly, moderate physical activities (p⩽0.04), and weekly caloric expenditure (p⩽0.02). Perceived exercise barriers (p⩽0.02), aerobic endurance (p<0.04) and lower body strength (p<0.03) approached significance, and health-related quality of life (p⩽0.001) significantly improved.

Conclusion: An exercise self-management format referred by an oncologist is efficacious for implementing a lifestyle modification change among older breast cancer survivors. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.