Reasons for non-participation in cancer rehabilitation: a scoping literature review

Mikala Erlik*, Helle Timm, Anders Thyge Steen Larsen, Morten Quist

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: Rehabilitation plays an important role in addressing the many challenges of living with cancer, but a large proportion of people with cancer do not participate in available cancer rehabilitation. Hence, reasons for non-participation in cancer rehabilitation need to be explored.

OBJECTIVE: The present study undertakes a scoping review of research examining reasons for non-participation in cancer rehabilitation among people with cancer.

DESIGN: A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, Scopus and CINAHL for articles published until July 2023. Included studies were hand searched for relevant references and citations.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Method: Studies with qualitative, quantitative or mixed-method design.

POPULATION: Studies targeting adults (> 18) living with cancer, not participating in rehabilitation. Program type: The review included all studies defining program as rehabilitation but excluded clinical trials.

OUTCOME: Studies examining reasons for non-participation in available rehabilitation.

DATA EXTRACTION: The extracted data included author(s)/year of publication, aim, population, information, rehabilitation type and main reasons for non-participation.

RESULTS: A total of nine studies were included (n = 3 quantitative, n = 2 qualitative, n = 4 mixed methods). Reasons for non-participation included physical, psychosocial and practical aspects. The main reason across studies was 'no need for public support' related to receiving sufficient support from family and friends. All studies focused on individual reasons, and structural conditions were rarely present.

CONCLUSION: Research within this field is sparse. Future research should explore how individual reasons for non-participation relate to structural conditions, especially among people in socially disadvantaged positions living with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number346
JournalSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2024


  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/rehabilitation
  • Health inequities
  • Patient acceptance of health care
  • Patient participation
  • Refusal to participate
  • Rehabilitation
  • Social support


Dive into the research topics of 'Reasons for non-participation in cancer rehabilitation: a scoping literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this