Interest in and barriers to participation in a Facebook-delivered weight loss program among female cancer survivors with overweight or obesity

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Medicine

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Behavioral Medicine | Health Psychology | Neoplasms | Psychiatry and Psychology | Telemedicine


Background: Although excess body weight is linked to post-treatment complications for cancer survivors, obesity rates have increased rapidly among adult cancer survivors. Innovative approaches to weight loss programs, such as via social media, are needed to engage female cancer survivors. The purpose of this study is to explore important components of a Facebook-delivered weight loss program for female cancer survivors.

Methods: Female cancer survivors who are overweight or obese and finished active treatment completed a web-based, mixed-methods survey.

Results: Participants (N=96) were on average 54.3+/-9.6 years old, 89% white, 66% obese, and 87% tried to lose weight in the last year. Health concerns were the most important reason (88%) for wanting to lose weight. Barriers to weight loss included other health issues (52%) and perceived sacrifice/burden of weight loss process (35%). Qualitative themes for barriers included inability to make dietary changes (19%), lack of motivation (18%), and physical limitations (13%). Participants were most interested in a weight loss program delivered via Facebook (81%), led by a weight loss counselor (78%), provided healthy recipes (73%) and exercise videos (72%). Qualitative themes included information on cancer treatment effects (25%), calorie tracker (21%), and exercise modifications (17%). Qualitatively, concerns about weight loss included fear of cancer recurrence (20%) and lack of confidence in weight loss efforts (17%).

Conclusions: While female cancer survivors are interested in a Facebook-delivered weight loss program, additional research needs to address customization and delivery to address specific barriers experienced by cancer survivors.


Cancer, Facebook, obesity, overweight, survivorship, weight loss

DOI of Published Version



Mhealth. 2019 Aug 21;5:28. doi: 10.21037/mhealth.2019.08.02. eCollection 2019. Link to article on publisher's site

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