Dragon boat racing and health-related quality of life of breast cancer survivors: a mixed methods evaluation

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Aug 5;13:205. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-205.


Background: Breast cancer survivors who participate in physical activity (PA) are reported to experience improved health-related quality of life (HRQOL). However, the quantitative research exploring the relationship between the team-based activity of dragon boat racing and the HRQOL of breast cancer survivors is limited. Given the rising number of breast cancer survivors, and their growing attraction to dragon boating, further exploration of the influence of this activity on HRQOL is warranted.

Methods: This study is designed to: 1) quantitatively assess whether and how breast cancer survivors' participation in a season of dragon boat racing is related to HRQOL and 2) qualitatively explore the survivors' lived experience of dragon boating and how and why this experience is perceived to influence HRQOL. A mixed methods sequential explanatory design was used with the purpose of complementing quantitative findings with qualitative data. Quantitative data measuring HRQOL were collected at baseline and post-season (N=100); semi-structured qualitative interviews were used to elicit a personal account of the dragon boat experience (N=15).

Results: Statistically significant improvements were shown for HRQOL, physical, functional, emotional and spiritual well-being, breast cancer-specific concerns and cancer-related fatigue. A trend towards significance was shown for social/family well-being. Qualitative data elaborated on the quantitative findings, greatly enhancing the understanding of how and why dragon boat racing influences HRQOL.

Conclusions: The use of a mixed methods design effectively captured the complex yet positive influence of dragon boating on survivor HRQOL. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature supporting the value of dragon boat racing as a viable PA intervention for enhancing survivor HRQOL.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*