Ongoing physical activity is essential for all humans, but the effects are especially important for survivors of childhood cancers. Nevertheless, many of these survivors do not meet the daily activity requirements set by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One group of researchers in China set out to develop a way to increase the amount of physical activity in a pediatric population of cancer survivors. They published their results in Cancer Nursing.
The researchers developed an SMS-based weekly interventional motivational interviewing prompt (WhatsApp/We Chat) that was sent to parents of children in the study cohort to remind them to engage in physical exercise. The parents and their children were also asked to attend one informational session on the benefits and types of exercise that would be useful to their children.
“This study provides empirical evidence on the effectiveness and feasibility of brief motivational interviewing delivered to parents via instant messaging applications for promoting the adoption and maintenance of regular physical activity, reducing cancer-related fatigue, and improving muscle strength and quality of life among childhood cancer survivors,” noted the research team.
The study also addressed the current state of the literature on exercise and physical activity in childhood cancer survivors and identified a few important considerations.
“First, although most previous interventional studies have demonstrated their effectiveness for promoting physical activity among childhood cancer survivors, the clinical effectiveness of these innovations remains uncertain. It is essential to document the minimally important differences that constitute a change in patient management and support the development of new evidence-based guidelines for clinical practice,” stated the research team.
The researchers also noted that the length of follow-up of many studies is inadequate, citing budgetary constraints as a possible explanation. Regardless of the reason, the researchers insist that it is essential to document the results beyond the current 12-month average follow-up.
“Sustainability is an important consideration in the potential implementation of innovations in clinical practice,” noted the researchers. “For any intervention that has a significant positive impact on health, the effects should be sustained for more than 1 year.”