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Recall of physical activity advice was associated with higher levels of physical activity in colorectal cancer patients
  1. A Fisher,
  2. K Williams,
  3. R Beeken,
  4. J Wardle
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr A Fisher; abigail.fisher{at}


Objectives The present study tested the hypothesis that recall of receiving physical activity (PA) advice would be associated with higher levels of PA in patients with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC).

Setting Colorectal cancer patients who were diagnosed in 2010 or 2011, and had been treated in the English National Health Service (NHS).

Participants 17 753 respondents completed at least one section of the survey relevant to the current study and after exclusion of 171 with dementia (since results relied on recall), 15 254 had complete data for the current study. 60% were male, 67% were >65 years and 96% were from a white ethnic group.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Patients completed the ‘Living with and Beyond Colorectal Cancer’ Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) survey in 2013. The survey included questions on receiving exercise advice/information (‘PA advice’), and the frequency of currently doing at least 30 min of brisk PA per day (‘PA level’: 0, 1–4 or 5–7 days, within the past week; with the top category meeting UK guidelines).

Results A third of respondents (31%) recalled receiving PA advice. Independent of demographics and treatment, patients who recalled having PA advice were more likely to be currently doing some brisk PA (51% in the advice group vs 42% in the no advice group; OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.60 to 1.90; p<0.001), and more likely to be meeting PA guidelines (25% vs 20%; OR 1.70, CI 1.54 to 1.88; p<0.001).

Conclusions Recalling being given PA advice after a diagnosis of CRC was associated with higher levels of PA. However, less than a third of patients recalled receiving advice. Future research should examine the context in which advice is given and randomised trials are required. However, encouraging clinicians working with patients with CRC to give brief PA advice is warranted and may help improve outcomes for CRC survivors.

  • Physical activity
  • Oncology
  • Lifestyle

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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