Designing effective exercise intervention trials for prostate cancer cohorts: a qualitative study on experiences and views of exercise oncology researchers

Kira Murphy, Suzanne Denieffe, Bróna Kehoe, Dayle Hacking, Ciaran M. Fairman, Michael Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Exercise intervention research has shown promising results in preventing and reversing the side effects caused by prostate cancer and its’ treatment. However, there are still unanswered questions and the need for additional research. As the field of exercise oncology in the context of prostate cancer presents unique challenges and complexities, seeking the advice of experienced exercise oncology researchers before initiating a similar trial could help to design more effective and efficient studies and help avoid pitfalls. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study design and a nonprobability, purposive sampling method was employed. An interview guide was developed and included topics such as recruitment, retention, programme goals, research design, health considerations, treatment considerations, adverse events, exercise prescription and outcome tools. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted and interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Eight individuals with extensive experience working with prostate cancer patients in exercise oncology research settings were interviewed. Four main themes and seven subthemes were generated and supported by the data. Theme 1 highlighted the critical role of recruitment, with associated subthemes on recruitment barriers and recruitment methods. Theme 2 explored the positives and negatives of home-based programmes. Theme 3 focused on specific health characteristics, exercise prescription and outcome measure factors that must be considered when working with prostate cancer cohorts. Finally, theme 4 centered around the emotional dimensions present in exercise oncology trials, relating to both researchers and study participants. Conclusion: Exercise oncology remains a challenging area in which to conduct research. Learning from experienced personnel in the field offers valuable information and guidance that could impact the success of future trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
Pages (from-to)145
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2023


  • Exercise oncology
  • Expert opinion
  • Prostate cancer
  • Trial design


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