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Improving cancer patients' quality of life : a qualitative study on the chances and barriers of physical activity to alleviate cancer patients’ fatigue

Bauer, N. (2015) Improving cancer patients' quality of life : a qualitative study on the chances and barriers of physical activity to alleviate cancer patients’ fatigue.

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Abstract:Background: Treatment of cancer is often interconnected with side effects like cancer related fatigue (CRF), which could be attenuated by physical activity (PA). Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the chances and barriers for cancer patients toward PA, to decrease CRF and thereby improve their quality of life. It was based on Theory of Planned Behaviour, which seemed to include appropriate factors to predict PA in cancer patients and external factors that seemed to affect peoples’ PA in general. Method: The interview scheme was developed top down, based on the results of a review of scientific literature. The semi-structured interviews included 13 women and one man with cancer, with a mean age of 57 years. The respondents had breast cancer (n=12), oesophagus cancer (n=1) and ovarian cancer (n=1) as their main diagnosis. The interviews contained questions about psychological-, physiological- and environmental factors as well as about social support, associated with PA. Furthermore the EORTC-13, a questionnaire measuring various levels of CRF, was used to examine to what extent cancer patients suffer from different kinds of fatigue. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed later on. Then, the quotes were classified in subcategories, based on relevant expressions of the respondents (bottom up). Results: Psychological factors worked as a chance (attitude), as well as a barrier (lack of self-confidence in performing PA, fear of detrimental exercises and a negative body image). Physiological factors (16 different side effects) only worked as a barrier and environmental factors worked as chances (attractive neighbourhood, empathic trainers, small numbers of group members and individual advises in sport centres) as well as barriers (opening times of facilities, unsafe footpaths, cold weather, high costs of memberships and dissatisfying earlier experiences in sport centres). Social support (in group exercises) worked as a chance (motivation) and as a barrier (under challenge) in one case. Unless all reported barriers, almost all respondents (n=13) performed PA frequently and the results of the EORTC-13 did not show that a higher level of fatigue was related to less PA. Conclusion: Chances seemed to have more effect on the participants’ PA than barriers and most barriers also seemed to be unchangeable. Therefore, future research and health promotion programs should focus on the chances toward PA, instead of its barriers. Furthermore, a new model has been developed to explain the internal and external factors, influencing PA of cancer patients.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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