This study is the first to examine the correlates of PA in KCS and the first to use SEM to test a two-component model of the TPB for PA in any cancer survivor group. The TPB model demonstrated an adequate-to-good fit to the data. There were significant model pathways to PA from PBC, intention, and planning, where intention emerged as the strongest correlate. In terms of planning, there was a significant pathway to planning from intention. In addition, there were significant model pathways to intention for which PBC was the strongest correlate followed by instrumental attitude and descriptive norm. Overall, the TPB accounted for 69%, 63% and 42% of the variance in intention, planning and PA, respectively. These findings are in line with previous TPB studies with cancer survivors where 21-38% of the variance was accounted for in PA behavior and 23-62% in PA intention [7
], as well as with a recent meta-analysis in the general population where 43.7% and 21.2% of the variance was accounted for in PA intention and behavior, respectively [40
]. With regards to planning, our study findings are in line with previous studies where 67% of the variance was explained by the TPB in young adult cancer survivors [8
], and 71% of the variance was explained in colorectal cancer survivors [7
In our study, PBC, intention, and planning were direct correlates of PA in KCS. The majority of studies in cancer survivors have demonstrated that intention is one of the main predictors of PA behavior [7
], however, few of these studies have included planning. Our analyses suggest that the association of intention with PA is partially mediated by planning. A number of previous studies in the general population have also shown planning to mediate the impact of intentions on behavior and to contribute to additional variance to the prediction of behavior [17
]. Within cancer populations, there is some evidence to suggest some implied mediation of planning for the intention-behavior relationship, where planning demonstrated independent contributions to PA among bladder cancer survivors [13
], colorectal cancer survivors [7
], and young adult cancer survivors [8
]. This highlights that intenders may potentially benefit from formulating detailed plans to engage in PA.
Previous studies have also shown that PBC is a direct correlate of PA [13
], however, these studies have not included planning. Our data suggest a direct association of PBC with PA even after accounting for planning. In addition, there were strong significant total effects of PBC and intention on PA. This finding may be due to age-related barriers that KCS may experience since they tend to be older than survivors of other cancers. Therefore, they may have other existing comorbidities that may contribute to poorer health. This suggests that PBC is an important correlate of PA in older populations including cancer survivors. Moreover, intention was found to be the sole direct correlate of planning which is consistent with the few studies that have examined the correlates of planning in cancer survivors [7
]. This suggests that forming an intention is a necessary condition for the development of a detailed plan to initiate PA.
With regards to intention, the key correlates in our study were PBC followed by instrumental attitude and descriptive norm. These data suggest that KCS will form intentions to engage in PA if they view it to be easy to perform, beneficial, and that important others will perform the behavior. Moreover, when examining the indirect effects of the TPB constructs on PA, PBC had the strongest indirect effect, with descriptive norm, instrumental attitude, and intention having smaller trivial effects on PA. Similarly, previous studies in cancer survivors have also found PBC and instrumental attitude to be significant correlates of intention, with PBC being the strongest correlate [7
]. In our study, affective attitude did not emerge as a significant correlate of intention, which is inconsistent with our hypothesis and previous research that suggests that affective attitude is a strong correlate of intention [7
]. This finding is unique because it suggests that instrumental attitude may be more important for KCS when forming an intention to engage in PA. This may be due to differences in health and age. KCS are more likely to be overweight or obese, and have other comorbidities due to their older age compared to many other survivor groups. Therefore, KCS may be more likely to intend to engage in PA if they feel it would be beneficial rather than fun/enjoyable.
Subjective norm is typically a very weak correlate of intention after controlling for attitude and PBC [16
]. In our study, descriptive norm emerged as a significant correlate of intention, but the direct effect of descriptive norm on intention was trivial, with the indirect effect on PA being small and trivial as well. Subjective norm has generally not been a significant correlate of intention in previous studies [12
]. This suggests that enlisting important others to engage in PA behavior themselves and enlisting support and encouragement may not be as important among KCS compared to other TPB constructs such as attitude and PBC, or it may also indicate that normative constructs have their influence on PA through other TPB constructs (e.g., PBC, instrumental attitude, affective attitude).
A secondary purpose of this study was to examine if the TPB operated equivalently across sub-groups which consisted of common demographic and medical variables. In terms of demographic variables, the interrelationships of the TPB constructs with intention and PA behavior were invariant across age groups and sex. Similarly, invariance was also observed for medical sub-groups such as BMI, number of comorbidites, months since diagnosis, type of surgery, type of incision, and disease stage. Our finding of invariance is inconsistent with previous studies with cancer survivors that have found select demographic and medical variables to moderate associations within the TPB [13
]. For example, Karvinen et al. [12
] found that age and BMI moderated the associations of the TPB, where control constructs were more important correlates of PA and intention in older and obese endometrial cancer survivors compared to younger and healthy/overweight survivors. In addition, Karvinen et al. [13
] found age and adjuvant therapy to be significant moderators of the TPB with bladder cancer survivors. The discrepancies in findings may be due to the differences in statistical techniques employed. In previous studies examining moderators of the TPB among cancer survivors, path analysis and multiple regression techniques were used, whereas in our study, we employed a more powerful multivariate technique of SEM which tests the TPB model overall, rather than coefficients individually [19
]. These differences may also be due to the medical and demographic differences among cancer survivor groups. Our findings suggest that PA interventions for KCS based on the TPB do not need to be targeted to specific subgroups.
Our study also solicited the underlying behavioral, normative, and control beliefs for future PA interventions in KCS. The analyses of individual beliefs provide an understanding of key targets for the development of interventions designed to increase PA levels. Behavioral beliefs were separated into instrumental and affective beliefs, which is a novel feature of the elicitation of salient beliefs in cancer survivor groups. For instrumental beliefs, KCS reported weight loss, improved fitness, and improved strength as the most common anticipated benefits of PA. These findings are similar to other cancer survivor groups including young adult [8
], adolescent [39
], ovarian [21
], endometrial [12
], and non-Hodgkin lymphoma [10
] cancer survivors. For affective beliefs, KCS indicated that exercising with other people, exercising outdoors, and doing a specific activity are aspects that make PA enjoyable. These beliefs are also consistent with a previous study in young adult cancer survivors [8
]. Targeting these key beliefs in PA interventions is essential when attempting to influence affective and instrumental attitudes of KCS.
In terms of control beliefs, KCS reported other medical/health problems, lack of time, and pain/soreness as the most common barriers to PA. These beliefs were also reported in other cancer survivor groups [8
]. Similar to our findings, Karvinen et al. [12
] reported poor health to be the most common barrier to PA among endometrial cancer survivors. Given the high obesity rate and the number of comorbidites present in older cancer survivors, it is important to develop PA programs that are appropriate for people with poor health. Since PBC has been shown to be a strong correlate of intention and PA, and contribute to both total and indirect effects on PA, it is essential for PA interventions to focus extensively on control beliefs in KCS.
For normative beliefs, KCS reported that family members, spouse/partner, and friends to be the most important people to provide support. This is in line with previous research with other cancer survivor groups [8,10,12,21,39]. With older cancer survivors such as endometrial [12
] and ovarian [24
], family, spouse/partner, and the medical team are important sources of support which is consistent with our findings among KCS. Even though descriptive and injunctive norm had trivial and/or non-significant effects on intention, it may be important to include support and encouragement in PA interventions for KCS because of their potential influence on other TPB constructs (i.e., PBC, instrumental attitude, affective attitude).
Our study should be interpreted within the context of important strengths and limitations. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the correlates of PA in KCS and one of the first to use SEM to examine the TPB for PA in any cancer survivor group. This study is also one of the few studies that have tested a two-component model of the TPB among cancer survivors and included planning. Furthermore, we sampled all KCS diagnosed between 1996 and 2010 from a comprehensive Registry in Alberta, Canada. One limitation of our study is the inherent selection biases due to the transparent purpose of the study. KCS who were more interested in PA were perhaps more likely to participate in the study, and thus overestimate the number of KCS meeting PA guidelines and have higher scores on the TPB variables. The modest response rate of a 42.5% may also limit the generalizability of the findings. The study design was cross-sectional in nature in which causation cannot be implied. Our study also relied on a self-report measure of PA which, although validated, can introduce measurement error.
In conclusion, our results support the utility of the TPB to explain PA among KCS. Our study provided evidence that PA is strongly associated with planning and intention which, in turn, are strongly associated with PBC, instrumental attitude, and descriptive norm. Our findings identified important targets for informing PA interventions among KCS. These interventions would need to implement strategies in regards to planning for PA and how to anticipate and overcome barriers to PA. Also, strategies can be used to address attitudes toward PA, where messages can be focused around the benefits of PA and factors that would make participating in PA important. In addition, salient PA beliefs were identified that are essential to the development of PA interventions. Based on these beliefs, PA interventions should target the benefits of PA such as weight loss and improvement in fitness and strength. The enjoyable aspects of PA should also be highlighted including exercising with others, engaging in a fun activity, and exercising outdoors. However, addressing barriers to PA such as the presence of health problems and pain/soreness, as well as lack of time should be the main target for influencing PA levels of KCS. Finally, demographic and medical variables remained invariant in the TPB model suggesting that similar intervention strategies can be implemented among different subgroups of KCS. Developing theory-driven PA interventions for KCS may lead to important improvements in health and QoL.