Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Kinesiology




Suzanne Phelan


Physical activity (PA) has numerous benefits for cancer survivors, but limited research exists on PA interventions in young adult cancer survivors. Outdoor adventure therapy is a potential method of increasing PA in this demographic. The primary purpose of this non-randomized parallel group study was to determine whether the outdoor adventure camp experience (vs. wait list control) would increase participants’ PA levels immediately following the 7-day camp, as well as three months later. Secondary aims examined correlates of greater PA, including pre-post camp changes in sedentary behavior, exercise self-efficacy, environmental change self-efficacy, perceived barriers to exercise, physical activity enjoyment, and physical activity variety. Sixty-six control and 50 intervention participants were given validated quantitative questionnaires at baseline, 1 week (end of camp) and at the 3-month follow-up. Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (RMANOVA) was used to compare group changes over time. Using intent to treat analysis, adjusting for age, gender, age at diagnosis, and baseline minutes of PA per week, there was a significant difference (p=.0001) in minutes of PA per week between groups at both 1 week and 3 months. Bonferroni adjusted post-hoc analysis indicated that, relative to baseline, the intervention group had significantly (p=.0001) greater increases in PA at both 1 week (577 minutes vs. 9 minute increases) and 3 month follow-ups (133 minute increases vs. 75 minute decreases; p=.001) respectively. Significant intervention-related improvements were also observed in TV viewing hours/week (p=.001), hours sitting/week (p=.001), “Excuses” score of the Perceived Barriers to PA questionnaire (p=.04), Enjoyment of Structured Activities (p=.04), and PA Variety (p=.0001) at 1 week but not at the 3 month follow-up. No significant effects were observed for changes in exercise self-efficacy, environmental change self-efficacy, or the other subscales scores. In conclusion, outdoor adventure therapy has the potential to increase PA levels in cancer survivors both immediately following camp, as well as long-term. However, effects tend to wane after camp termination. Future research should explore the relationship between correlates of PA and PA levels in outdoor adventure therapy camp participants and methods to promote sustained PA after camp termination.