Predictors of attendance during an exercise program for cancer survivors



Exercise programs delivered in community- or clinic-based settings improve physical and psychosocial outcomes among cancer survivors; however, adherence is essential to achieve such benefits. This study examined predictors of attendance to an exercise program in a large, diverse sample of cancer survivors.


Participants (n = 302) were enrolled in BfitBwell, an exercise program for adults diagnosed with cancer, and currently receiving or within 6 months of completing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Participants were offered two supervised aerobic and resistance exercise sessions per week for 3 months. Predictors of attendance included demographics, cancer-related information, quality of life (QOL), fatigue, physical fitness, activity level, and importance of making various changes (e.g., improving fitness). Univariate linear regression first explored associations between predictor variables and adherence, and any important variables (p < .10) were included in a multivariate linear regression model.


Participants were M = 54.9 ± 13.9 years old, mostly female (67.3%), white (83.6%), and most commonly diagnosed with breast cancer (34.8%). Average attendance was 16.2 ± 6.6 exercise sessions. Six-minute walk test distance, QOL, and fatigue were associated with exercise session attendance (p < .05). The multivariable model revealed that higher QOL predicted higher attendance (β = .351, p = .005), and working full- or part-time significantly predicted lower attendance (β =− .221, p =.021).


Higher pre-program QOL and not working full- or part-time predicted higher exercise program attendance. Existing and future exercise programs for cancer survivors should consider ways to adapt program delivery to provide support to survivors who start with low QOL, and accommodate those who may face barriers to attending due to work schedule/conflict.

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Leach is supported by a career development award from the American Cancer Society (131629-MRSG-18-021-01-CPPB).

Author information




HJL conceived of the research idea, completed the data analyses, and wrote the article. RJM collected and managed the data and aided in interpreting results and worked on the manuscript. JJS collected and managed the data. JCP aided in interpreting results and worked on the manuscript. WTP conceived the original exercise program and is in charge of overall direction and planning of the program. All authors provided critical feedback on the manuscript and approved the final version that was submitted for publication.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Heather J. Leach.

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This study was approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board [COMIRB #17-033]. All participants completed a written, signed informed consent to approve the use of their data for research purposes.

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These data have not been presented or published elsewhere.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Leach, H.J., Marker, R.J., Scorsone, J.J. et al. Predictors of attendance during an exercise program for cancer survivors. Support Care Cancer (2021).

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  • Adult
  • Cancer survivors
  • Exercise
  • Health behavior
  • Quality of life