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Moderators of exercise effects on cancer-related fatigue: a meta-analysis of individual patient data
van Vulpen JK, Sweegers MG, Peeters PHM, Courneya KS, Newton RU, Aaronson NK, Jacobsen PB, Galvao DA, Chinapaw MJ, Steindorf K, Irwin ML, Stuiver MM, Hayes S, Griffith KA, Mesters I, Knoop H, Goedendorp MM, Mutrie N, Daley AJ, McConnachie A, Bohus M, Thorsen L, Schulz KH, Short CE, James EL, Plotnikoff RC, Schmidt ME, Ulrich CM, van Beurden M, Oldenburg HS, Sonke GS, van Harten WH, Schmitz KH, Winters-Stone KM, Velthuis MJ, Taaffe DR, van Mechelen W, Kersten MJ, Nollet F, Wenzel J, Wiskemann J, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM, Brug J, May AM, Buffart LM
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2020 Feb;52(2):303-314
systematic review

PURPOSE: Fatigue is a common and potentially disabling symptom in patients with cancer. It can often be effectively reduced by exercise. Yet, effects of exercise interventions might differ across subgroups. We conducted a meta-analysis using individual patient data of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to investigate moderators of exercise intervention effects on cancer-related fatigue. METHODS: We used individual patient data from 31 exercise RCTs worldwide, representing 4,366 patients, of whom 3,846 had complete fatigue data. We performed a one-step individual patient data meta-analysis, using linear mixed-effect models to analyze the effects of exercise interventions on fatigue (z-score) and to identify demographic, clinical, intervention- and exercise-related moderators. Models were adjusted for baseline fatigue and included a random intercept on study level to account for clustering of patients within studies. We identified potential moderators by testing their interaction with group allocation, using a likelihood ratio test. RESULTS: Exercise interventions had statistically significant beneficial effects on fatigue (beta -0.17 (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.22 to -0.12)). There was no evidence of moderation by demographic or clinical characteristics. Supervised exercise interventions had significantly larger effects on fatigue than unsupervised exercise interventions (beta difference -0.18 (95%CI -0.28 to -0.08)). Supervised interventions with a duration <= 12 weeks showed larger effects on fatigue (beta -0.29 (95% CI -0.39 to -0.20)) than supervised interventions with a longer duration. CONCLUSIONS: In this individual patient data meta-analysis, we found statistically significant beneficial effects of exercise interventions on fatigue, irrespective of demographic and clinical characteristics. These findings support a role for exercise, preferably supervised exercise interventions, in clinical practice. Reasons for differential effects in duration require further exploration. PROSPERO: CRD42013003805.

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