The effect of a 12-week home-based walking program on reducing fatigue in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy: A randomized controlled study

Hsiang Ping Huang, Fur Hsing Wen, Tsui Yun Yang, Yung Chang Lin, Jen Chen Tsai, Shiow Ching Shun, Sui Whi Jane, Mei Ling Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Fatigue is the most common symptom experienced by cancer patients during treatment and can last long after completing treatment. Fatigue in cancer patients who have completed treatment is well known to be reduced by exercise, but the effect of exercise on reducing fatigue in patients under treatment has been inconsistent. Objectives: The purposes of this study were to examine short-term and long-term effects of an individually tailored, home-based brisk walking program on reducing fatigue in breast cancer patients under chemotherapy. Design, setting, participants: For this randomized controlled trial, women were recruited from a medical center in northern Taiwan if they were diagnosed with stages I-III breast cancer and experienced insomnia, fatigue, pain, or depressive symptoms after their first cycle of chemotherapy. Consenting participants (N = 159) were randomly assigned to either an exercise (12-week home-based walking program) group (n = 81) or an attention-control group (n = 78). Methods: The 12-week, home-based brisk walking program started on the first day of the third chemotherapy cycle. Fatigue was measured by the Brief Fatigue Inventory. Covariates, i.e., functional performance, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, and exercise-related variables, were also measured. Data were collected at baseline, two times during the exercise intervention, and five times after the exercise intervention (eight times in total). The effects of time-varying and time-invariant predictors on fatigue were analyzed by multilevel modeling. Results: Fatigue levels increased over time for both groups, even after completing treatment. At the end of the 12-week exercise program, the exercise group had less fatigue than the attention-control group, and this group difference was maintained for the whole study period. At the end of exercise program, women who had spent more time exercising before diagnosis had less fatigue than those who had exercised less often. In addition, patients' fatigue levels at various time points fluctuated along with their functional performance, sleep disturbance, and depression. Conclusions: Our tailored, home-based brisk walking program effectively reduced fatigue in breast cancer patients under chemotherapy, and this effect lasted after completing treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103376
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Hierarchical linear model
  • Home-based brisk walking


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