Feasibility and Acceptability of an Active Video Game–Based Physical Activity Support Group (Pink Warrior) for Survivors of Breast Cancer: Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

Maria C. Swartz, Zakkoyya H. Lewis, Rachel R. Deer, Anna L. Stahl, Michael D. Swartz, Ursela Christopherson, Karen Basen-Engquist, Stephanie J. Wells, H. Colleen Silva, Elizabeth J. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Survivors of breast cancer with functional limitations have a 40% higher mortality rate than those without. Despite the known benefits of physical activity (PA), <40% of survivors of breast cancer meet the recommendations for PA. The combination of active video games (AVGs) and group-based PA counseling may hold potential for motivating PA adoption and improving physical function. However, this method has not been widely studied in survivors of breast cancer. Objective: We aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a group AVG-based multicomponent PA intervention and estimate its effect size and variability on PA and physical function in female survivors of breast cancer in a clinic setting. Methods: Female survivors of breast cancer (N=60) were recruited through the clinic and randomly assigned to the intervention group (12 weekly sessions) or the control group (existing support group). The intervention group received game-based pedometers and participated in weekly group AVG sessions, PA behavioral coaching, and survivorship navigation discussions. A participant manual with weekly reflection worksheets was provided to reinforce the coaching lessons and promote self-led PA. The control group received conventional pedometers and participated in an existing breast cancer support group. Feasibility was assessed by enrollment rate (≥50%), retention rate (≥80%), group attendance rate (75% attending ≥9 sessions [intervention group]), and the number of technological issues and adverse events. Acceptability was measured by participants’ attitudes (from strongly disagree=1 to strongly agree=5) toward the use of AVGs and the overall program. The outcomes included PA (accelerometers) and physical function (Short Physical Performance Battery and gait speed). Analysis of covariance was used to determine differences in PA and physical function between the groups. The Cohen d and its 95% CI determined the effect size and variability, respectively. All the analyses followed the intention-to-treat principle. Results: Participants were an average of 57.4 (SD 10.5) years old, 70% (42/60) White, and 58% (35/60) off treatment. The enrollment rate was 55.9% (66/118). Despite substantial long-term hurricane-related disruptions, we achieved an 80% (48/60) retention. The intervention group’s attendance rate was 78% (14/18), whereas the control group’s attendance rate was 53% (9/17). Of the 26 game-based pedometers, 3 (12%) were damaged or lost. No study-related adverse events occurred. Acceptability items were highly rated. Steps (β=1621.64; P=.01; d=0.72), Short Physical Performance Battery (β=.47; P=.01; d=0.25), and gait speed (β=.12; P=.004; d=0.48) had a significant intervention effect. Conclusions: The intervention was feasible and acceptable in this population despite the occurrence of a natural disaster. Pilot results indicate that group AVG sessions, PA coaching, and survivorship navigation produced moderate effects on PA and physical functioning. AVGs with PA counseling can potentially be used in existing breast cancer support groups to encourage PA and improve physical function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere36889
JournalJMIR Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • breast cancer
  • group intervention
  • mobile phone
  • motivation
  • physical activity
  • physical function
  • pilot study
  • survivors of cancer
  • video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Feasibility and Acceptability of an Active Video Game–Based Physical Activity Support Group (Pink Warrior) for Survivors of Breast Cancer: Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this