Showing off my new lungs: and interpretive phenomenological analysis of organ transplant recipients’ experiences of physical activity and sport

Gareth Wiltshire, Nicola J. Clarke, Cassandra Phoenix, Carl Bescoby

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Background: With increasing long-term survival rates of organ transplant patients worldwide there is a need to research effective methods of illness self-management to maintain health and well-being post-transplant. Amidst a growing body of evidence demonstrating the bio-medical benefits of physical activity for transplant recipients, numerous initiatives exist encouraging participation in sport and exercise. Yet, there is very little research exploring the experience of sport and exercise in the context of what is complex bio-psycho-social patient experience and how such experiences can have an impact on the health and well-being of patients beyond bio-medical effects. Methods: This study utilises interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) to examine interviews with an international cohort of transplant recipients (n=13) who have engaged with sport and exercise. Results: Analysis revealed four ways that the experience of sport and exercise potentially impacts on health and well-being, (1) physical activity was perceived as a health enhancing practice in which participants engaged in to prolong the functionality of their transplanted organ and with a sense of gratitude towards their donor – living or deceased, (2) embodied experiences were intertwined with narratives of survivorship and self-improvement, (3) participation in Transplant Games events fostered social networks which provided affective communities, shaped knowledge and shaped illness expectations, and (4) Transplant Games events prompted reflection on illness and mortality. Conclusions: Our findings reveal that organ transplant recipients experience sport and exercise in ways that can have implications for their health and well-being beyond bio-medical factors. Implications for clinical teams working with newly transplanted patients are discussed. Furthermore, this study contributes to an understanding of the role of physical activity in the management of long-term conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAcceptance date - 2018
EventQualitative research in sport and exercise - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 13 Jun 201815 Jun 2018


ConferenceQualitative research in sport and exercise
Abbreviated titleQRSE


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