Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Brenda Cartmel


Purpose: Cancer survivors often exhibit symptoms of impaired cognitive abilities after chemotherapy treatment. Physical activity has been shown to be promising in improving cognitive function among survivors for various types of cancer. However, very few studies have addressed this concern among the ovarian cancer patient population specifically.

Methods: The study randomized 111 physically-inactive ovarian cancer survivors into a 6-month exercise intervention (n=59) or an attention-control group (n=52). The FACT-Cog scale was self-reported to understand survivor perceptions of cognitive abilities at baseline and at 6 months. Generalized linear models (GLMs) were executed to examine the effect of the intervention versus attention-control on change in cognitive function.

Results: The 6-month change in perceived cognitive impairments (CogPCI) and perceived cognitive abilities (CogPCA) was significantly different between the two treatment groups. For CogPCI, there was a 1.9% improvement in women randomized to exercise and a 2.7% reduction in women randomized to attention-control (p=0.025). For CogPCA, there was a 4.2% improvement in the exercise group and a 8.9% reduction in the attention control group (p<0.001). Among women ≥ 57 years, those randomized to the intervention had increased CogPCI (p=0.008) and CogPCA (p=0.013) compared with those in the control. Among women < 57 years, those in the exercise group had increased CogPCA compared to the control (p=0.038).

Conclusion: A 6-month home-based exercise program led to improved cognitive function among women treated for ovarian cancer. These findings serve to inform more discussions about the role of physician activity in survivorship care and suggest that incorporating exercise regimens following treatment may be beneficial in improving cognitive function in ovarian cancer patients.


This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. It will be made publicly available on 05/27/2021