Research Projects
A brief SMART exercise with chat-based instant messaging support intervention to improve fatigue in patients with lung cancer - A pragmatic randomized controlled trial

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

Fatigue is the commonest symptom in advanced lung cancer patients. Exercise is a potential treatment. We designed a brief mobile SMART Exercise Support Program (SES), a modified version of Zero-time Exercise intervention with dietary and symptom management advice and psychological support to improve fatigue in advanced lung cancer patients.


To examine the effectiveness of SES on relieving fatigue, pain, dyspnea, happiness, anxiety and depression symptoms, physical activity level, physical fitness performance, sleep quality and habits, and quality of life in advanced lung cancer patients.
To identify patients’ facilitators and barriers of physical activity adherence.
To explore the mechanisms of the impacts of SES on improvements in fatigue and quality of life.


A 2-group randomised controlled trial on advanced lung cancer patients with process and outcome evaluation will be conducted at 2-month and 6-month follow-up. The mixed-effects model analysis will be conducted to examine the effectiveness of SES with subjective and objective measurements by intention-to-treat analysis and sensitivity analysis. Program acceptability and feasibility, intervention adherence and credibility, and health utilisation will be assessed. The facilitators and barriers of exercise adherence and the possible mechanisms of the impacts of SES on physical activity, fatigue and related outcomes will be analysed.


The SES can improve patients’ physical activity and increase exercise self-efficacy and quality of life, and reduce the health service burden from advanced lung cancer diseases.

Dr YKA Lai, School of Nursing

Dr Agnes Lai is an Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing of the University of Hong Kong. Dr Lai received her BN, DN, and PhD from The University of Hong Kong and MSc (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a registered nurse in HK and the USA, a fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Nursing, a registered polysomnographic technologist, a cancer exercise specialist, and a certified zentangle trainer. She also is a council member of the Hong Kong Respiratory Nursing Association and a committee member of the CNE/CPD Education Committee at the Hong Kong Thoracic Society.

Her research interest areas are two-fold, including clinical and preventive medicine. She has broad experience in conducting trials on various chronic diseases (sleep apnea, lung cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and insomnia), self-management education programs, mental health and quality of life. She also conducted various capacity-building train-the-trainer workshops for teachers, social workers, and lay health promoters, empowering them to implement a series of large-scale community-based projects to integrate physical activity and healthy eating habits into daily life. She has conducted various epidemiology studies to update lung function and grip strength reference values for adults and large-scale health promotion activities in Hong Kong.

Dr Lai also received various funding from major funding bodies and international and local awards and scholarships. Her achievement is recognized by the Excellence Research Award from Food and Health Bureau, HKSAR, Hong Kong.

Scholars Hub

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.