Integrating physical activity into the cancer care pathway, an example from Aberdeen, Scotland

Josefine Björkqvist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity is safe and clinically effective for people living with cancer (PLWC), both during and after treatment. It has been shown to decrease fatigue and improve physical functioning and quality of life. Despite this evidence physical activity is still not prescribed to PLWC as part of routine cancer care.

Macmillan Cancer Support and Sport Aberdeen entered a partnership to deliver the Move More Aberdeen (MMA) programme to support PLWC in Aberdeen into a lifestyle of long-term, independent physical activity for health. A referral pathway for MMA was established in partnership with NHS Grampian. MMA delivery started in January 2015 with 12-week community-based physical activity groups of moderate-intensity (chair-based exercise, walking and gardening) and high-intensity (circuits). A moderate-intensity group was later introduced at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for PLWC undergoing radiotherapy treatment. The cancer and physical activity standard evaluation framework (CaPASEF) was used to measure physical activity levels, self-assessment of health, fatigue and mobility at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months. This data is currently being analysed. PLWC who completed the MMA programme 12 months ago (n = 62) were interviewed in January 2017 to assess adherence to physical activity.

MMA has generated 282 referrals to date, 67% from NHS health professionals and 33% from self-referrals. Referrals are highest for prostate (26%), breast (22%), bowel (7%) and lung (7%) cancer. 59% of PLWC referred to MMA have attended one or more MMA activities. 87% of participants (n = 54) who completed MMA 12 months ago had increased or maintained their physical activity levels since baseline. The MMA referral pathway has been replicated across other physical activity programmes for PLWC in Scotland.

MMA has improved access and adherence to physical activity for PLWC and demonstrates a feasible model for integrating physical activity into standard cancer care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberIssue Suppl_3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


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