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Oncology Rehabilitation Outcomes Over Time: A Mixed-Methods Approach

Elizabeth J. Predeger
Maureen O'Malley
Thomas Hendrix
Nadine M. Parker
ONF 2014, 41(2), E56-E63 DOI: 10.1188/14.ONF.E56-E63

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate an oncology rehabilitation program over time.

Design: A cross-sectional, retrospective program evaluation using a mixed-methods approach.

Setting: An outpatient oncology rehabilitation program housed in an urban, hospital-based comprehensive cancer center in Alaska.

Sample: 102 cancer survivors who had completed a 10-week oncology rehabilitation program (mean time since completion was 2.5 years).

Methods: Participants completed a mailed, 28-item retrospective survey to collect perceived activity level recalled at various points in time as well as program perceptions. Open-ended questions elicited narrative comments about motivators and barriers. The Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) SF-36® was completed before and after the program.

Main Research Variables: Health-related quality of life, perceived health status, activity level, motivators, barriers, and program perceptions.

Findings: A small increase in level of activity from precancer to the current time (postrehabilitation) (z = -3.1, p < 0.01) was reported. Most and least helpful motivators emerged from the narrative data, resulting in the shared interpretation of "I have my life back."

Conclusions: Program motivators were effective in helping cancer survivors maintain some increased activity and retain positive perceptions well after the completion of the program.

Implications for Nursing: Survivors who complete a rehabilitation program retain a sense of restoration and caring, and some engage in physical activity over time. Adapting the program based on insights into the survivor perspective may assist oncology rehabilitation clinicians to promote optimum physical activity and sustain healthful change.

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