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Momentum Project Heidelberg

Social cognitions and norms towards physical exercise among cancer patients and health care professionals

The project is a cooperation between the University of Heidelberg, the German Cancer Research Center, the University Hospital Heidelberg and the National Center of Tumor Diseases.

Funding: Deutsche Krebshilfe
Term: 01.03.2015 – 28.02.2018


Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Monika Sieverding, Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf, Dr. Joachim Wiskemann

Project team members: Dr. Nadine Ungar, Laura Schmidt, Alexander Haussmann, Angeliki Tsiouris

Brief description

Dealing with a cancer disease varies substantially between affected persons. A lot of cancer patients perceive it as helpful to use additional actions and strategies besides the medical treatment. Within the Momentum Project, we investigate which strategies are used and also recommended for a better coping with the disease. This can relate to nutritional strategies, physical activity, psychological support, self-help groups or natural medicine. We are interested in the point of view and experience of affected persons, physicians and nurses.

Main goal of the survey is to find out more about the attitude of affected persons towards different additional actions and strategies and which ones they are using themselves. In addition, we are interested if and to what extent these strategies are part of the consultations with their physicians or nurses.

From physicians and nurses we want to know which additional actions and strategies they believe are helpful and which recommendations they are providing. 

Furthermore, different factors are analyzed that affect the use and the promotion of additional actions and strategies, such as patient characteristics, side effects of the therapy or structural factors.

The project comprises surveys with HCP (specialized practitioners and general practitioners, N=600, oncology nurses, N=300) and cancer patients (N=1200, 400 patients each with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer) with a cross-sectional research design. Additionally, a follow-up-study with a sub-sample of cancer patients (N=180), who are at the beginning of primary or palliative cancer therapy, will be conducted with measurement points immediately before or shorty after treatment initiation (t0, baseline), during treatment (t1, after 4 week), and 3 months after the initiation of treatment (t2).

Order of study

For cross-sectional study participants, participation includes a one-time completion of a questionnaire. For cancer patients, it involves questions concerning different behavioral measures. Physicians and nurses are asked which recommendations they are providing towards cancer patients during therapy. Both groups are additionally surveyed regarding their attitudes and other social-cognitive variables. Important sociodemographic and medical variables are controlled. In the sub-sample of patients in the follow-up-study, objective behavioral outcomes are gathered with an accelerometer.

Current status

Our survey among physicians and nurses is completed and includes 552 physicians and 404 oncology nurses.

With regard to both surveys we have already outnumbered our study aim. 1413 patients took part in the cross-sectional survey.

In addition, 134 couples of physicians and their treating patients were gathered, offering us the possibility to match their data.

For our longitudinal study among cancer patients, we recruited 138 participants.

Several scientific papers have been written by our project members: ten of these have already been published in scientific journals, another has been submitted and is currently being reviewed.


Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf
phone: +49 6221 42 2351 oder -56 5838

Alexander Haussmann
phone: +49 6221 42 2383

The Momentum Project at a glance

  • Study goal: Insights regarding the prevalence and the attitudes towards actions and strategies besides the medical cancer treatment as well as its importance within the medical treatment
  • Study population: Cancer patients (with breast, prostate and colorectal cancer) and health care professionals (general practitioners, specialized practitioners and nurses)
  • Large-scaled, nationwide survey in a cross-sectional and a longitudinal design


Depenbusch J, Wiskemann J, Haussmann A, Tsiouris A, Schmidt L, Ungar N, Sieverding M, & Steindorf K (2020) Impact and determinants of structural barriers on physical activity in people with cancer, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. [Epub ahead of print].

Depenbusch J, Haussmann A, Tsiouris A, Schmidt L, Wiskemann J, Ungar N, Sieverding M, Steindorf K (2020): The association between physicians' exercise counseling and physical activity in patients with cancer: Which roles do patients' satisfaction and previous physical activity levels play? Psycho-Oncology, 29, 1856-1863. doi: 10.1002/pon.5506

Haussmann A, Ungar N, Tsiouris A, Depenbusch J, Sieverding M, Wiskemann J, & Steindorf K (2021). Physical activity counseling to cancer patients: How are patients addressed and who benefits most?. Patient education and counseling, 12, 2999-3007.

Haussmann A, Ungar N, Tsiouris A, Sieverding M, Wiskemann J, & Steindorf K (2020). The Influence of Cancer Patient Characteristics on the Recommendation of Physical Activity by Healthcare Professionals. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 65-78. doi: 10.1007/s12529-019-09833-z

Haussmann A, Ungar N, Gabrian M, Tsiouris A, Sieverding M, Wiskemann J, & Steindorf K (2018). Are healthcare professionals being left in the lurch? The role of structural barriers and information resources to promote physical activity to cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 26, 4087–4096. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4279-x

Haussmann A, Gabrian M, Ungar N, Jooß S, Wiskemann J, Sieverding M, & Steindorf K (2018).
What hinders healthcare professionals in promoting physical activity towards cancer patients? The
influencing role of healthcare professionals' concerns, perceived patient characteristics and perceived structural factors. European Journal of Cancer Care, 27(4), e12853. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12853

Steindorf K, Depenbusch J, Haussmann A, Tsiouris A, Schmidt L, Hermann S, Sieverding M, Wiskemann J, Ungar N (2020): Change patterns and determinants of physical activity differ between breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 28, 3207-3218. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05097-1

Ungar N, Tsiouris A, Haussmann A, Herbolsheimer F, Wiskemann J, Steindorf K & Sieverding M (2019). To rest or not to rest - Health care professionals' attitude toward physical activity during cancer treatment. Psycho-Oncology, 28, 784-791. doi: 10.1002/pon.5020

Ungar N, Schmidt L, Gabrian M, Haussmann A, Tsiouris A, Sieverding M, Steindorf K, Wiskemann J (2018). Which Self-management Strategies do Health Care Professionals Recommend to Their Cancer Patients? An Experimental Investigation of Patient age and Treatment Phase. Behavioral Medicine, 42, 342-352. doi: 10.1007/s10865-018-9980-1

Tsiouris A, Ungar N, Haussmann A, Sieverding M, Steindorf K, & Wiskemann J (2018). Health Care Professionals' Perception of Contraindications for Physical Activity During Cancer Treatment. Frontiers in Oncology, 8(98). doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00098


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