Physical activity among breast cancer survivors

Harrison, Sheree (2008) Physical activity among breast cancer survivors. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In Australia, women with breast cancer comprise one of the largest groups of cancer survivors. As a consequence of this, and improved survival rates, the interest in programs to enhance the recovery of cancer survivors is growing. Exercise during and after treatment has been identified as a potential strategy to assist women throughout their treatment and positively influence the recovery and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of breast cancer survivors. Through the use of an existing data source, this study investigated physical activity rates, explored the factors associated with low levels of physical activity participation, and assessed the relationship between levels of activity and HRQoL among women diagnosed with breast cancer. The population-based sample, obtained in 2002 was comprised of 287 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, residing in South-East Queensland. Women were followed-up (via subjective questionnaire and objective physical testing) every three months over a 12-month period, from six months post-diagnosis. Physical activity was assessed using the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) while HRQoL was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for breast cancer (FACTB+4). Based on National Physical Activity Guidelines, women were categorised as being sufficiently active, insufficiently active or sedentary at each of the five testing phases (specifically at 6-, 9-, 12-, 15- and 18-months post-diagnosis). Rates of participation in physical activity were relatively stable over the testing period. At 18 months post-diagnosis, 44%, 43% and 13% of women, respectively, were categorised as being sufficiently active, insufficiently active or sedentary. The sedentary or insufficiently active women were more likely to be older, obese or overweight, lack private health insurance, and have received both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, compared with sufficiently active women. Sedentary women consistently reported a lower HRQoL compared to active women (sufficiently or insufficiently active) over the 12-month testing period. This was especially apparent amongst the group of younger women (aged less than 50 years at diagnosis) (p=0.02). This work is among the first to explore physical activity rates specifically among Australian breast cancer survivors, and highlights the potential importance of participating in physical activity to optimise HRQoL during recovery from breast cancer. Specific attention to promote physical activity to the identified group of sedentary and insufficiently active survivors is of particular importance.

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ID Code: 16617
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Newman, Beth & Hayes, Sandra
Keywords: breast cancer, physical activity, exercise, recovery, health-related quality of life, longitudinal data, public health
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Department: Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Sheree Harrison
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:07
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:50

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