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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Steps toward improving diet and exercise for cancer survivors (STRIDE): a quasi-randomised controlled trial protocol

Lauren J Frensham*, Dorota M Zarnowiecki, Gaynor Parfitt, Rebecca M Stanley and James Dollman

Author Affiliations

Exercise for Health and Human Performance, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:428  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-428

Published: 13 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Cancer survivorship rates have increased in developed countries largely due to population ageing and improvements in cancer care. Survivorship is a neglected phase of cancer treatment and is often associated with adverse physical and psychological effects. There is a need for broadly accessible, non-pharmacological measures that may prolong disease-free survival, reduce or alleviate co-morbidities and enhance quality of life. The aim of the Steps TowaRd Improving Diet and Exercise (STRIDE) study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an online-delivered physical activity intervention for increasing walking in cancer survivors living in metropolitan and rural areas of South Australia.

Methods/Design

This is a quasi-randomised controlled trial. The intervention period is 12-weeks with 3-month follow-up. The trial will be conducted at a university setting and community health services in South Australia. Participants will be insufficiently active and aged 18 years or older. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the intervention or control group. All participants will receive a pedometer but only the intervention group will have access to the STRIDE website where they will report steps, affect and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercise daily. Researchers will use these variables to individualise weekly step goals to increase walking.

The primary outcome measure is steps per day. The secondary outcomes are a) health measures (anthropometric and physiological), b) dietary habits (consumption of core foods and non-core foods) and c) quality of life (QOL) including physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Measures will be collected at baseline, post-intervention and 3-month follow-up.

Discussion

This protocol describes the implementation of a trial using an online resource to assist cancer survivors to become more physically active. It is an innovative tool that uses ratings of perceived exertion and daily affect to create individualised step goals for cancer survivors. The research findings may be of relevance to public health policy makers as an efficacious and inexpensive online-delivered intervention can have widespread application and may improve physical and psychological outcomes among this vulnerable population. Findings may indicate directions for the implementation of future physical activity interventions with this population.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613000473763.

Keywords:
Physical activity; Walking; Pedometer; Cancer survivorship; Online intervention; Lifestyle intervention