Defining adolescent and young adult (AYA) exercise and nutrition needs: Concerns communicated in an online cancer support community

Brad Love, Michal C. Moskowitz, Brittani Crook, Charee M. Thompson, Erin Donovan-Kicken, Kristin Stegenga, Catherine Fiona Macpherson, Rebecca H. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Objective: To describe topics, needs, and concerns related to nutrition and exercise that adolescents and young adults affected by a serious illness (cancer) discuss online. Methods: Investigators conducted a qualitative content analysis of messages related to nutrition and exercise posted on an online young adult cancer forum. Results: AYAs described several functions achieved through nutrition and exercise, such as fighting cancer, losing weight, obtaining nutrients despite side effects of treatment, promoting general health, enjoyment, and promoting mental/emotional health. AYAs also discussed several problems that interfere with nutrition and exercise goals, such as side effects of steroids, physiological problems with eating, safety concerns or physical limitations due to treatment, poor follow through with behavioral change, stress, and low energy. Conclusion: AYAs discuss specific ways nutrition and exercise help achieve a variety of functions that may be physical or psychological, cancer-specific or general. AYAs describe several concerns and barriers that impede their nutrition and exercise goals. Practice implications: Clinicians should also consider relevant medical and personal variables that partly determine nutrition and exercise concerns. Clinicians can anticipate barriers to desired nutrition/exercise change and develop interventions that address these barriers in appropriately tailored ways, including using digital media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-133
Number of pages4
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Exercise
  • Internet
  • Nutrition
  • Public health
  • Social support
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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