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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • exercise;
  • counselling;
  • quality of life

Abstract

Background

Cancer and its treatments produce lingering side-effects that undermine the quality of life (QOL) of survivors. Exercise and psycho-therapies increase QOL among survivors, however, research is needed to identify intervention characteristics most associated with such improvements.

Objective

This research aimed to assess the feasibility of a 9 week individual or group based exercise and counselling program, and to examine if a group based intervention is as effective at improving the QOL of breast cancer survivors as an individual-based intervention.

Methods

A three group design was implemented to compare the efficacy of a 9 week individual (IEC n = 12) and group based exercise and counselling (GEC n = 14) intervention to a usual care (UsC n = 10) group on QOL of thirty-six breast cancer survivors.

Results

Across all groups, 90% of participants completed the interventions, with no adverse effects documented. At the completion of the intervention, there was a significant difference between groups for change in global QOL across time (p < 0.023), with IEC improving significantly more (15.0 points) than the UsC group (1.8 points). The effect size was moderate (0.70). Although the GEC improved QOL by almost 10.0 points, this increase did not reach significance. Both increases were above the minimally important difference of 7–8 points.

Conclusion

These preliminary results suggest a combined exercise and psychological counseling program is both a feasible and acceptable intervention for breast cancer survivors. Whilst both the individual and group interventions improved QOL above the clinically important difference, only the individual based intervention was significant when compared to UsC.Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.