A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Physical Activity Intervention for Self-Management of Fatigue in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2021


cancer, fatigue, adolescents



Fatigue remains a persistent and troubling symptom for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. Physical activity (PA) is recommended as a strategy for self-management of fatigue.


The aim of the study was to examine a physical activity (PA) intervention to improve the self-management of fatigue in AYAs during chemotherapy.


This randomized controlled trial enrolled AYAs (18–39 years) receiving chemotherapy. AYAs in the intervention group received a 12-week PA intervention integrated into 5 clinic visits that included education, PA tracking, and collaboration. PA was measured with an accelerometer, and participants completed measures of fatigue severity, self-efficacy for PA, and self-regulation at baseline and end of study.


44 AYAs completed the study. At baseline, AYAs averaged 4290 steps/day (SD=2423) and 14.4 (SD=20.6) minutes/day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA; their average PROMIS fatigue score was 55.0 (SD=9.2). At end of study, there were no significant differences between groups in fatigue, self-efficacy, self-regulation, or PA, but trends in the desired direction were observed for each of the variables in the intervention group.


During chemotherapy, AYAs had variable levels of PA and engaged in mostly light-intensity physical activity. Their average fatigue level was slightly worse than a national comparison group.

Implications for practice:

Tailored interventions are needed to promote PA in AYAs as a self-management strategy for fatigue. Enhancing self-efficacy and self-regulation may be important approaches to promote PA.