The Feasibility of Exercise Interventions Delivered via Telehealth for People Affected by Cancer: A Rapid Review of the Literature

Kittani Morrison, Catherine Paterson, Kellie Toohey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence of exercise as an adjunct therapy to cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery is growing rapidly and has been shown to improve health outcomes, treatment completion rates, and quality of life in people affected by cancer. Given the complexity of delivering cancer services during coronavirus disease (COVID-19), many people who are undergoing cancer treatment are unable to access exercise services. This review aims to investigate: (1) the feasibility of exercise telehealth interventions for individuals diagnosed with cancer; and (2) the impact of exercise telehealth interventions for people affected by cancer on physical and psychosocial outcomes.

Methods/Data Sources
The literature search was conducted in four electronic databases (CINAHL, Cochrane, Medline, and Psych Info) from January 1, 2010 until May 1, 2020. All peer-reviewed qualitative and quantitative studies were included irrespective of study design. Studies that investigated adults (aged ≥18 years) with a diagnosis of any cancer, irrespective of treatment type, cancer stage or primary/secondary nature of disease were included.

Twenty-nine studies (a total of 3698 participants across the included studies) were synthesized. Across the included studies the interventions were broadly classified into four main areas of telehealth: web-based, mobile applications, SMS messaging, and telephone interventions.

Participants across the studies showed good compliance, symptom relief and reported an overall positive experience using telehealth for exercise. There were no adverse events reported in these studies. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, more research is required to assess the feasibility of telehealth platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or FaceTime, and to determine the overall participant and exercise professional telehealth exercise delivery experience.

Implications for Nursing Practice
Telehealth uses telecommunications technology as a tool to deliver health care to populations with limited access to cancer care. Quality care of a person living with cancer requires multidisciplinary team-based care and telecommunications technology can support interprofessional care. This review has underscored that telecommunications is a critical tool in the delivery of cancer care to enable timely ongoing support for exercise interventions for those affected by cancer. It remains important for people affected by cancer to continue to engage in and maintain regular exercise under the guidance of qualified health professionals in keeping with evidence-based clinical guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number151092
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSeminars in Oncology Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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