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The Effects of Group Exercise on Fatigue and Quality of Life During Cancer Treatment

Joanna M. Losito
Susan O. Murphy
Mary L. Thomas
ONF 2006, 33(4), 821-825 DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.821-825

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the feasibility of participating in a structured group exercise program (SGEP) for adult patients receiving cancer treatment and to test the impact of an SGEP on reducing cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and improving quality of life (QOL).

Design: One-group, prospective, pre- and post-test design.

Setting: Two community outpatient infusion centers.

Sample: Convenience sample of 12 adults with varying cancer diagnoses receiving cancer treatment.

Methods: Nine of 12 subjects participated in SGEP twice weekly for six weeks. Exercises focused on strengthening proximal muscle groups and improving functional ability. All subjects completed the Fatigue Symptom Inventory and the Short Form-36 version 2 (SF-36v2) Health Survey at baseline and six weeks.

Main Research Variables: Feasibility of the intervention, CRF, and QOL.

Findings: No difference in reported fatigue was found. The SF-36v2 subscale score for bodily pain showed a significant decrease in this symptom. Subscale scores for physical role, vitality, and social function increased but did not yield statistical significance. Social interactions resulted in strong group cohesiveness. A postprogram questionnaire identified themes of support, learning from shared information, and the usefulness of having an exercise program that also serves as an informal support group.

Conclusions: SGEP is feasible, safe, and well tolerated by adult patients with cancer and may have positive effects on CRF and QOL.

Implications for Nursing: The benefits of exercise for patients with cancer receiving treatment are well documented. Using a multidisciplinary approach, oncology nurses, working with an exercise physiologist, can safely create an SGEP, combining the power of group interactions with the appeal of a wellness-promoting behavior, and provide an additional tool to assist in the management of physiologic and psychosocial effects of cancer treatment.

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