Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3375–3384 | Cite as

A qualitative evaluation of breast cancer survivors’ acceptance of and preferences for consumer wearable technology activity trackers

  • Nga H. Nguyen
  • Nyssa T. Hadgraft
  • Melissa M. Moore
  • Dori E. Rosenberg
  • Chris Lynch
  • Marina M. Reeves
  • Brigid M. LynchEmail author
Original Article



Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour are common amongst breast cancer survivors. These behaviours are associated with an increased risk of comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes and other cancers. Commercially available, wearable activity trackers (WATs) have potential utility as behavioural interventions to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour within this population.


The purpose of the study is to explore the acceptability and usability of consumer WAT amongst postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.


Fourteen participants tested two to three randomly assigned trackers from six available models (Fitbit One, Jawbone Up 24, Garmin Vivofit 2, Garmin Vivosmart, Garmin Vivoactive and Polar A300). Participants wore each device for 2 weeks, followed by a 1-week washout period before wearing the next device. Four focus groups employing a semi-structured interview guide explored user perceptions and experiences. We used a thematic analysis approach to analyse focus group transcripts.


Five themes emerged from our data: (1) trackers’ increased self-awareness and motivation, (2) breast cancer survivors’ confidence and comfort with wearable technology, (3) preferred and disliked features of WAT, (4) concerns related to the disease and (5) peer support and doctor monitoring were possible strategies for WAT application.


WATs are perceived as useful and acceptable interventions by postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. Effective WAT interventions may benefit from taking advantage of the simple features of the trackers paired with other behavioural change techniques, such as specialist counselling, doctor monitoring and peer support, along with simple manual instructions.


Cancer survivors Breast cancer Physical activity Sedentary behaviour Wearable technology 


Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (ECF-15-012 to BM Lynch).

NT Hadgraft was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Baker IDI Bright Sparks top up scholarship.

C Lynch was supported by a PhD scholarship from Northern Health.

MM Reeves was supported by a National Breast Cancer Foundation Fellowship (ECF-13-09).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Human Research Ethics Committee of Cancer Council Victoria (IER-1503) and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nga H. Nguyen
    • 1
  • Nyssa T. Hadgraft
    • 2
    • 3
  • Melissa M. Moore
    • 4
  • Dori E. Rosenberg
    • 5
    • 6
  • Chris Lynch
    • 7
  • Marina M. Reeves
    • 8
  • Brigid M. Lynch
    • 1
    • 2
    • 9
    Email author
  1. 1.Cancer Epidemiology and Intelligence DivisionCancer Council VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Physical Activity LaboratoryBaker Heart and Diabetes InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Medical Oncology, St Vincent’s HospitalThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Group Health Research InstituteSeattleUSA
  6. 6.School of Public HealthThe University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  7. 7.School of Health and Biomedical SciencesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  8. 8.School of Public HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  9. 9.Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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