Changing health behaviour with rehabilitation in thoracic cancer: a systematic review and synthesis

Psycho oncology 2018 February [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Bayly J, Wakefield D, Hepgul N, Wilcock A, Higginson IJ, Maddocks M


International guidelines recommend that rehabilitation be offered to people with thoracic cancer to improve symptoms, function and quality of life. When rehabilitation interventions require a change in behaviour, the use of theory and behaviour change techniques (BCTs) enhance participation. Our objective was to systematically identify BCTs and examine their use in relation to the Capability,Opportunity,Motivation-Behaviour model and known enablers and barriers to engagement in this population.

Bibliographic databases and grey literature were searched for controlled trials of rehabilitation interventions for adults with lung cancer or mesothelioma, with no limits on language or date. Data on the application of behavioural change theory and BCTs were extracted, categorized using the BCT Taxonomy (v1) and described according to the ‘Capability, Opportunity, Motivation-Behaviour’ model.

Twenty-seven studies of exercise (n=15) and symptom self-management (n=12) interventions were identified. Four studies reported use of behavioural change theory, one study used symptom theory. Across studies, a mean (range) of 7 (1-18) BCTs were used, representing 26 of 93 possible BCTs included in the taxonomy. Most frequent enabling BCTs were ‘instructions on how to perform behaviours’ (74%), ‘behavioural practice’ (74%) and ‘action planning’ (70%). BCTs to address barriers were less frequent and included ‘information about health consequences’ (22%), and ‘verbal persuasion about capability’ (7%) to change perceptions about benefits, burden and harms.

The application of behavioural change tools appears sub-optimal in this group of patients. Explicit use of BCTs targeting behavioural components upon which outcomes depend may improve the uptake and effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions.