Problem-solving Strategies of Women Undergoing Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Can J Occup Ther. 2012 Feb;79(1):33-40. doi: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.1.5.


Background: Many women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer experience side effects that make it difficult to perform daily occupations.

Purpose: To summarize the types of challenges, goals, and adaptive strategies identified by women with stage 1-3 breast cancer participating in a pilot study of Problem-solving Treatment-Occupational Therapy (PST-OT).

Methods: Content analysis of 80 PST-OT sessions.

Findings: Women addressed 11 types of challenging activities, with exercise and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) being the most common. Most women set a goal to adapt a current activity, but also set goals to find a new activity, plan the steps of a current activity, or gather information about a possible activity change in the future. The adaptive strategies generated by the women were grouped into five types. Most often they found ways to add a new step to an activity, but they also brainstormed about when, how, where, and with whom they could do activities.

Implications: The women were usually trying to adapt familiar activities but also were looking for ways to include new, healthy occupations into their routines.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Problem Solving*