A meta-analysis of healthy lifestyle interventions addressing quality of life of cancer survivors in the post treatment phase

Morgan Leske, Christina Galanis, Bogda Koczwara, Lisa Beatty

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Purpose: This study’s primary aim was to investigate whether including a mental health component to healthy lifestyle interventions are associated with greater effects on quality of life (QoL) for post-treatment cancer survivors than addressing physical activity and/or nutrition alone. 

Methods: PsycINFO, Scopus, Medline, CINAHL, and Google Scholar were searched to identify randomised control trials of healthy lifestyle interventions for post-treatment cancer survivors, with a usual care or waitlist control, and measured QoL. Meta-analyses quantified the effects of interventions vs controls at post-treatment on total QoL, physical, emotional, and social well-being. Subgroup analyses compared interventions with vs without a mental health component, modes of delivery, and duration. The quality of the included studies was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2. 

Results: Eighty-eight papers evaluating 110 interventions were included: 66 effect sizes were extracted for meta-analysis, and 22 papers were narratively synthesised. The pooled effect size demonstrated a small, significant effect of healthy lifestyle interventions in comparison to control for all QoL outcomes (total g = 0.32, p >.001; physical g = 0.19, p = 0.05; emotional g = 0.20, p >.001; social g = 0.18, p = 0.01). There was no significant difference between interventions with vs without a mental health component. Face-to-face delivered interventions were associated with greater total QoL and physical well-being compared to other modalities. Interventions delivered ≤12 weeks were associated with greater physical well-being than those delivered ≥13 weeks. Overall, studies had substantial levels of heterogeneity and 55.9% demonstrated high risk of bias. 

Conclusions: Participating in a healthy lifestyle intervention following cancer treatment improves QoL. Few trials addressed mental health or evaluated online or telephone modalities; future research should develop and evaluate interventions that utilise these features. 

Implications for Cancer Survivors: Brief healthy lifestyle interventions can be recommended for cancer survivors, particularly those interested in improving physical well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Early online date11 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jan 2024


  • Cancer survivors
  • Complex interventions
  • Lifestyle intervention
  • Quality of life


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