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KAM: Kids are Moving; An Exercise Program for Children with Cancer

University of Minnesota
Mary Catherine (Casey) Hooke, PhD
Grant Type: 
Nurse Researcher Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

Co-Investigator:   Ulf Bronas, PhD, University of Minnesota


During cancer treatment children are less active than their health peers. This inactivity persists into survivorship and can negatively affect health and quality of life. Physical activity may also improve fatigue, a prevalent and distressing symptom during treatment. Improving health behaviors during treatment can have lifelong benefits for cancer survivors.

Project Goal

In this study, we will evaluate the effectiveness of the “Kids are Moving” exercise program. The exercise program will follow program guidelines set up by the American College of Sports Medicine and will be adapted for children with cancer. Children ages 6 to 18 years who are receiving chemotherapy, and their parents, will be coached on how to increase their physical activity and will receive an exercise prescription. This will occur as part of the standard care they receive from the nurse practitioners during the first six months of their outpatient visits. We want to find out if children in the Kids are Moving program are more active and have less fatigue. Activity will be measured through patient questionnaires about activity and fatigue, and by wearing the FitBit® activity tracker. Outcomes will be compared to measurements collected from children who received usual care before the exercise program started.

Physical activity is a vital for improving health and quality of life and for providing energy for engaging in positive life experiences as children move along the developmental continuum to a long and healthy future. Outcomes of the study will provide a foundation for larger multi-site clinical trials.

"Alex's Lemonade Stand is a major source of support for nurse researchers in pediatric oncology.  Personally, I am so grateful for the Independent Nurse Researcher grant I received.  This grant will allow me to advance my program of research in testing new ways to engage children with cancer and their families to become more physical active during treatment.  I am excited to partner with children, parents,and frontline clinicians in improving health and decreasing distressing symptoms during cancer treatment.  My heartfelt thanks to all those who make Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation possible."    

-Casey Hooke

January 2016 Update:

Our study is currently enrolling participants at the two study sites.  Patients and families have demonstrated an interest in taking part so that they can contribute to the generation of new knowledge.  PNPs are finding that it is challenging to find the time to coach about physical activity but also find that this becomes easier with practice. The PNPs also find that using brief but focused discussions can be effective. Physical activity is a vital for improving health and quality of life of children during and after cancer treatment.

April 2016 Update:

We implemented our curriculum to teach PNP's on how to coach kids and families to be more active using motivational interviewing.  Fourteen PNP's from the two oncology programs in our community completed the program and were awarded CE's for attendance.  They are now incorporating this intervention as part of the standard care they deliver to patients and families.  The PNP's report that it is challenging to "fit" this in to a busy clinic visit but we continue to meet as a group to share success stories. We have enrolled 15 patients in our study; enrollment involves consenting to be measured as they are receiving the physical activity coaching in their usual care.  Measurements include self-report of fatigue and physical activity as well as wearing an actigraph at 2nd, 4th, and 6th months of chemotherapy.  We are excited that our study will test if this approach is feasible in the "real world" of outpatient care and are persistent in our view that we can improve patient's health habits during their cancer treatment.