Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Exploring factors influencing uptake and adherence to a home-based prehabilitation physical activity and exercise intervention for patients undergoing chemotherapy before major surgery (ChemoFit): a qualitative study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthew CooperORCiD, Jakub Chmelo, Dr Rhona Sinclair, Dr Sarah Charman, Dr Kate HallsworthORCiD, Jenny Welford, Professor Alexander PhillipsORCiD, Professor Alastair GreystokeORCiD, Dr Leah Avery



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. OBJECTIVES: Preoperative exercise training can improve cardiorespiratory fitness before major surgery. However, little is known about what influences participation and adherence in high-risk patient groups. We identified barriers and facilitators to uptake, engagement and adherence to a presurgical, home-based physical activity and exercise intervention called ChemoFit delivered during chemotherapy and before major oesophagogastric surgery. DESIGN: A qualitative study using focus group discussions and individual semi-structured interviews was conducted. All were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and data thematically analysed. SETTING: Northern Oesophagogastric Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with oesophagogastric cancer who participated in the ChemoFit intervention recruited between March 2020 and January 2021. INTERVENTION: A home-based physical activity and exercise intervention involving cardiovasular and strength exercise using resistance bands and pedometers to monitor step count. Weekly telephone calls provided feedback, support and positive reinforcement. RESULTS: Twenty-two participants (18 men, 4 women; aged 67±8 years old) took part in a focus group discussion (n=17) or a semi-structured interview (n=5). Fifteen themes were identified from the data generated. Participants reported that the intervention was physically and mentally beneficial, and data highlighted features of the intervention that influenced uptake and adherence. An opportunity to increase the likelihood of surviving the pending operation was reported by participants as the most salient factor to engagement, and using the intervention as a distraction from illness and taking steps to positively influence the situation were the most salient factors to adherence. CONCLUSIONS: Uptake to the ChemoFit intervention was encouraged by provision of information that participation could reduce surgical risk and that participants could play an active role in risk reduction. Adherence was facilitated by the intervention being considered a positive distraction and participants being able to do something that could ultimately provide benefit. While participants reported difficulties and avoidance with some of the exercises recommended, understanding the importance of physical activity and exercise as part of their treatment regimen led to individual adaptations to intervention components to reach individual goals. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04194463.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cooper M, Chmelo J, Sinclair RCF, Charman S, Hallsworth K, Welford J, Phillips AW, Greystoke A, Avery L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2022

Volume: 12

Issue: 9

Online publication date: 22/09/2022

Acceptance date: 18/08/2022

Date deposited: 03/10/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062526

PubMed id: 36137639


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Jon Moulton Charitable Foundation
Sir Bobby Robson Foundation