Breast cancer survivors’ preferences for mHealth physical activity interventions: findings from a mixed methods study

Siobhan M. Phillips*, Kerry S. Courneya, Whitney A. Welch, Kara L. Gavin, Alison Cottrell, Anne Nielsen, Payton Solk, Danielle Blanch-Hartigan, David Cella, Ronald T. Ackermann, Bonnie Spring, Frank Penedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite the benefits of physical activity for breast cancer survivors, the majority remain insufficiently active. Mobile health (mHealth) physical activity interventions may be a more scalable strategy to increase activity among survivors. However, little is known about their preferences for mHealth intervention features. This study explored survivors’ preferences for these features. Methods: Survivors (N = 96; Mage = 55.8 (SD = 10.2)) self-reported demographic and disease characteristics, physical activity. A subset (n = 28) completed a semi-structured phone interview. Transcribed interviews were evaluated using a thematic content analysis approach and consensus review. Following interviews, the full sample self-reported interests and preferences for intervention features via online questionnaires. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: Five themes emerged from interview data: (1) importance of relevance to breast cancer survivors; (2) easy to use; (3) integration with wearable activity trackers; (4) provide sense of accomplishment; and (5) variability in desired level of structure and personalization. The highest ranked intervention features were: daily and weekly progress feedback (87.5%), newsfeed (86.6%), activity challenges (81.3%), and scheduling tool (79.2%). Survivors were interested in receiving progress feedback (80.2%) and motivational (78.1%) and reminder (75.0%) messages. Conclusions: Breast cancer survivors are interested in mHealth physical activity promotion interventions, but preferences varied around themes of relevance, ease of use, and enhancing personal motivation. Implications for cancer survivors: Engaging survivors in developing and implementing remotely delivered mHealth activity promotion interventions may enhance their effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-305
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019


  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Exercise
  • Mixed methods
  • Physical activity
  • Technology
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Oncology


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