Connecting women living beyond breast cancer for physical activity change: the importance of partner quality and social support on physical activity


Support from a fellow person living beyond a cancer diagnosis may result in increased physical activity (PA), yet the quality of the partner match and perceived social support may impact the influence of partners on PA. This RCT examined group differences among inactive women living beyond a breast cancer diagnosis paired with another woman (MATCH; n = 54) versus paired with another woman and training with a qualified exercise professional (MATCHQEP; n = 54) on increasing PA over 10-weeks. Perceptions of partner match quality and amount of PA social support were compared. PA support was explored as a factor impacting change in PA. Post-intervention improvements in moderate-to-vigorous (MV)PA were observed in both groups, with MATCHQEP more active (d = .19). Perception of partner match quality was higher for the MATCH group compared to MATCHQEP (d = .75) whereas the MATCHQEP reported higher perceptions of PA support (d = .58). A multilevel linear model with group, PA-related support, and the interaction term predicting change in PA was tested. A significant interaction (b = 7.60, SE = 3.91, p = .05) was observed and simple slopes indicated women in the MATCHQEP who perceived greater PA support increased their PA additionally (b = 7.18, SE = 2.73, p = .01) compared to those who perceived lower levels of PA support (b = -.045, SE = 2.81, p = .87). PA support did not impact change in PA for the MATCH group. These findings have implications for peer-based behaviour change interventions.