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Live-remote exercise program for cancer survivors

Study coordination:

Prof. Dr. Anne May (UMC Utrecht)

Study center Heidelberg:

Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf (DKFZ), Prof. Dr. Joachim Wiskemann (NCT and Heidelberg University Hospital)

Local coordination and execution in Heidelberg:

Alina Kias (DKFZ), Dr. Alexander Haussmann (DKFZ), Dr. Jana Müller (NCT and Heidelberg University Hospital), Dr. Martina Schmidt (DKFZ)

EU-Project Website:
Short description:

Exercise was shown to be a safe and effective strategy to counteract cancer and treatment-related side effects such as fatigue, decreased physical performance, anxiety and/or depressive symptoms, and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Further, studies demonstrated that exercise is particularly helpful for people suffering from severe symptoms. In addition, exercise supervised by a professional trainer is generally more effective than non-supervised exercise. However, a major barrier to participation in a supervised exercise program is the time required to travel to the training session. In this study, we aim to overcome this barrier by offering individuals after cancer treatment a program in which they are instructed at home by a certified trainer via a video conferencing platform (Zoom). This is why it is called "live-remote". In this study, we are therefore investigating whether a live-remote training program would be well accepted by potential participants and how effectively it can alleviate various symptoms after completing cancer treatment. Another aim is to explore the views of potential participants about such an intervention and how communication between healthcare professionals and individuals after cancer treatment regarding exercise can be improved.

The project is being carried out in 5 EU countries (Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Portugal) and in Australia and is divided into three studies:

LION-RCT (Randomized Controlled Intervention Trial, Cooperation between DKFZ and UKHD)
This study investigates the effects of a personalized live-remote exercise intervention on quality of life and cancer-related side effects in cancer survivors. In this context, personalized means that we offer four different exercise programs depending on the individual symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment. We compare the effects with those of a control group that receives the intervention after three months.

LION-ELSI (Focus Group / Cross-sectional Study, DKFZ)
This study investigates how cancer survivors think about a live-remote exercise program to reduce the side effects of therapy. In focus groups, participants will be asked about their attitudes towards live-remote exercise interventions, possible barriers, supporting factors, personal goals, expectations and preferences. In addition, we will investigate whether these factors are related to personal and medical characteristics of people after cancer treatment on the one hand and to regional and cultural factors on the other hand.

LION-COM (Focus Groups / Cross-sectional Study, DKFZ)
In this study we aim to gain insights into the barriers and facilitators of communication between healthcare professionals and cancer survivors regarding physical activity and exercise. Based on the study results, guidelines for healthcare professionals regarding effective communication with people after cancer treatment about physical activity will be developed. In addition, we will design a program for healthcare professionals to foster appropriate communication skills. To this end, we would like to learn more about the experiences and views of both cancer survivors and healthcare professionals in order to understand which aspects of communication about physical activity are most important.

Current status:

Recruitment has started in January 2024.


Alina Kias
phone: +496221 42 2201

The PREFERABLE II project at a glance

Study objectives:

  • LION-RCT: To test a live-remote exercise intervention to improve cancer and treatment-related side effects
  • LION-ELSI: To gain insights into the views of people after cancer treatment on this type of intervention
  • LION-COM: To gain insights into the views and experiences of cancer survivors and healthcare professionals on communicating about exercise after cancer treatment

Target group:

Cancer survivors (all studies) and healthcare professionals treating individuals with cancer (LION-COM only)

Study design:

Longitudinal design (LION-RCT: intervention over three months) or cross-sectional design (LION-ELSI and LION-COM: questionnaire/focus group at one point in time)

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