A randomized trial of a Facebook-based physical activity intervention for young adult cancer survivors

Carmina G Valle, Deborah F Tate, Deborah K Mayer, Marlyn Allicock, Jianwen Cai
Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice 2013, 7 (3): 355-68

PURPOSE: Over half of young adult cancer survivors do not meet physical activity (PA) guidelines. PA interventions can enhance health and quality of life among young adult cancer survivors. However, few exercise interventions have been designed and tested in this population. This study evaluated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a 12-week, Facebook-based intervention (FITNET) aimed at increasing moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA compared with a Facebook-based self-help comparison (SC) condition.

METHODS: Young adult cancer survivors (n = 86) were randomly assigned to the FITNET or SC group. All participants were asked to complete self-administered online questionnaires at baseline and after 12 weeks.

RESULTS: Seventy-seven percent of participants completed postintervention assessments, and most participants reported using intervention components as intended. Participants in both groups would recommend the program to other young adult cancer survivors (FITNET, 46.9 vs. SC, 61.8 %; p = 0.225). Over 12 weeks, both groups increased self-reported weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (FITNET, 67 min/week (p = 0.009) vs. SC, 46 min/week (p = 0.045)), with no significant difference between groups. Increases in light PA were 135 min/week greater in the FITNET group relative to the SC group (p = 0.032), and the FITNET group reported significant weight loss over time (-2.1 kg, p = 0.004; p = 0.083 between groups).

CONCLUSION: Facebook-based intervention approaches demonstrated potential for increasing PA in young adult cancer survivors.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Social networking sites may be a feasible way for young adult cancer survivors to receive health information and support to promote PA and healthy behaviors.

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