Dissertation Abstract

Activities of daily living performance in cancer patients undergoing treatment

Publication Number:  AAT3256987
Author:  Anton, Philip Michael, Ph.D.
School:  University of Northern Colorado
Date:  2006
Pages:  187
Subject:  Patient Care, Exercise, Radiation Therapy

Cancer patients typically experience significant side-effects as the result of treatment. These side-effects can include fatigue, decreased activities of daily living (ADL) performance, and decreased quality of life (QOL). Despite the interrelationship between ADL performance and QOL, attention to ADL has been limited in the area of cancer rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a specifically designed therapeutic exercise regimen on selected functional performance tasks, perceived fatigue, and QOL measures in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. We hypothesized that exercising subjects would experience significantly less decrement in fatigue, ADL performance, and QOL than subjects not participating in structured exercise. Participants in the study were thirty male and female cancer patients (middle aged to elderly) undergoing treatment for cancer (surgery and adjuvant treatment: chemotherapy or radiation). Subjects completed questionnaires regarding fatigue, QOL, and physical activity level and were tested on various functional activities at four distinct time points: (1) at diagnosis; (2) post-surgery; (3) at 9 weeks post-diagnosis; (4) at 9 weeks post-diagnosis. Adjuvant treatment commenced between measurement point 2 and 3. Experimental subjects took part in a 17-week exercise intervention (low to moderate intensity level; commenced at diagnosis) that targeted muscle group and energy systems involved in ADL (low to moderate intensity level), while control subjects did not participate in structured exercise. A factor analysis allowed for the creation of new variables that were the combination of original dependent variables that loaded well (correlated) together. Repeated-measures ANOVA analyses revealed significant improvement in the experimental group on all study variables and significant decline in the control group. These findings indicate that participation in a specifically designed exercise intervention during treatment can elicit improvement in fatigue, QOL, and the performance of functional activities. The results also indicate that a sedentary lifestyle during treatment exacerbates treatment-related side-effects. Cancer patients should be encouraged to take part in a structured exercise program from the point of diagnosis through the end of treatment in order to improve treatment tolerance, shorten recovery time, and maintain or improve quality of life.

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