Poster Presentation FCIC Survivorship Conference 2013

Recruitment of cancer survivors and carers to a face-to-face lifestyle intervention: balancing methodological considerations and logistical challenges (#35)

Gabrielle Asprey 1 , Fiona Stacey 2 3 4 , Annie Miller 1 , Erica James 2 3 4 , Kathy Chapman 1 , David Lubans 4 , Allison Boyes 2 3
  1. Cancer Council NSW, Woolloomooloo, NSW, Australia
  2. School of Medicine and Public Health, Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  3. Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  4. Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Introduction: Healthy lifestyle behaviours can reduce survivors’ co-morbidities, protect against recurrence and cancer-specific mortality, and improve quality of life. Face-to-face programs have been identified by survivors as a preferred delivery mode. The ENRICH (Exercise and Nutrition Routine Improving Cancer Health) program aims to improve the lifestyle behaviours of survivors and carers, via 6 face-to-face education and skill development sessions. ENRICH is being evaluated via a wait-list randomised controlled trial (RCT). Wait-list RCTs are recommended as a means to ensure scientific rigor whilst maintaining ethical standards. This presentation will outline the specific logistical challenges faced when conducting a wait-list RCT with this target group.

Methods: Participants included 169 survivors and carers (mean age= 55 years) recruited through support groups, health professionals, medical centres, and media advertising. Participants completed study measures at baseline, 8- and 20-weeks and provided program acceptability information. Recruitment and retention rates were assessed.

Results: Preliminary results indicate challenges with recruiting and retaining participants with 15% attrition post randomisation but prior to attending any sessions. Commonly reported reasons for withdrawal included scheduled holidays, and injury or illness (unrelated to the program). Those who did attend ENRICH reported high acceptability: relevant (97%); enjoyable (99%); useful (98%); participation was “worth their time and effort” (100%), and “would recommend the program to other cancer survivors” (99%). Trial outcomes demonstrate improvements in self-reported physical activity (PA) and diet outcomes.

Conclusions and future directions: ENRICH is an acceptable and efficacious behaviour change program for survivors and carers. However, due to the age and health status of potential participants, and possibly due to competing priorities following cancer treatment, there were challenges in recruiting and retaining survivors. It may be necessary to reconsider what is an acceptable retention rate for trials with this target group and consider the use of attention-control rather than wait-list RCTs.