Wearable activity monitors in oncology trials: Current use of an emerging technology

Gillian Gresham, Jennifer Schrack, Louise M. Gresham, Arvind M. Shinde, Andrew E. Hendifar, Richard Tuli, B. J. Rimel, Robert Figlin, Curtis L. Meinert, Steven Piantadosi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background Physical activity is an important outcome in oncology trials. Physical activity is commonly assessed using self-reported questionnaires, which are limited by recall and response biases. Recent advancements in wearable technology have provided oncologists with new opportunities to obtain real-time, objective physical activity data. The purpose of this review was to describe current uses of wearable activity monitors in oncology trials. Methods We searched Pubmed, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for oncology trials involving wearable activity monitors published between 2005 and 2016. We extracted details on study design, types of activity monitors used, and purpose for their use. We summarized activity monitor metrics including step counts, sleep and sedentary time, and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous activity. Results We identified 41 trials of which 26 (63%) involved cancer survivors (post-treatment) and 15 trials (37%) involved patients with active cancer. Most trials (65%) involved breast cancer patients. Wearable activity monitors were commonly used in exercise (54%) or behavioral (29%) trials. Cancer survivors take between 4660 and 11,000 steps/day and those undergoing treatment take 2885 to 8300 steps/day. Conclusion Wearable activity monitors are increasingly being used to obtain objective measures of physical activity in oncology trials. There is potential for their use to expand to evaluate and predict clinical outcomes such as survival, quality of life, and treatment tolerance in future studies. Currently, there remains a lack of standardization in the types of monitors being used and how their data are being collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Precis Recent advancements in wearable activity monitor technology have provided oncologists with new opportunities to monitor their patients' daily activity in real-world settings. The integration of wearable activity monitors into cancer care will help increase our understanding of the associations between physical activity and the prevention and management of the disease, in addition to other important cancer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Cancer
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Oncology trials
  • Outcome assessment
  • Physical activity
  • Wearable activity monitors
  • Wearable technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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