"‘You’re kind of left to your own devices’: A UK qualitative focus group study of breast, prostate and blood cancer patients’ engagement with exercise and physical activity during cancer treatment and in the months following standard care."

Sian K Smith, Gareth Wiltshire, Frankie Brown, Haryana M Dhillon, Mike Osborn, Sarah Wexler, Mark Beresford, Mark Tooley, James Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of patients with breast, prostate or blood cancer, regarding their (1) engagement with exercise and physical activity during treatment and in the months following standard care, and (2) the meanings attached to these lifestyle behaviours.

Design A qualitative study using focus groups. The groups were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using Framework analysis.

Setting A hospital-based cancer treatment centre in the South-West of England.

Participants Eighteen people who had either completed treatment or were currently on maintenance therapy for breast, prostate or blood cancer (non‐Hodgkin lymphoma or Hodgkin lymphoma).

Results Participants reported treatment limiting their ability to engage in exercise and physical activity. However, participants were aware of the physiological, emotional and social benefits of exercise and expressed a desire to maintain a physically active lifestyle before, during and after treatment. They noted a lack of concrete guidance and appropriate exercise classes for people with cancer and felt poorly informed about the type, intensity, duration and frequency of exercise they should be undertaking. As such, participants reported making decisions on their own, relying on their intuition and listening to their bodies to gauge whether they were doing enough exercise (or not).

Conclusions Participants were aware of the benefits of a physically active lifestyle during and following cancer treatment, but were not familiar with exercise and physical activity guidelines for people living with and beyond cancer. There is a need for healthcare professionals, academics and policy makers to determine how exercise and physical activity can be supported in clinical settings in realistic and meaningful ways accommodating individual patient circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Article number e056132
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2022

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