Purpose: To qualitatively explore the perceived impact of a 12-week rehabilitative intervention for oesophago-gastric cancer survivors on their physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Methods: Of the 21 participants who completed the intervention, 19 took part in a semi-structured focus group interview. Four audio-taped focus groups were held, ranging in size from two to eight participants. Focus groups were transcribed and analysed using a descriptive qualitative approach.
Results: At recruitment, participants were 23.5 ± 15.2 months post-surgery and all had suboptimal fitness levels. Participants reported improvements in their physical capacity and ability to carry out activities of daily living during the intervention. These improvements led to increased confidence and social connectivity. Other participants were a valuable source of information and reassurance, while support from family members was variable. Future interventions should educate participants on how to maintain gains achieved during the intervention.
Conclusions: Participating in an exercise-based multidisciplinary rehabilitative intervention reduces isolation and helps oesophago-gastric cancer survivors to safely negotiate their physical, emotional and social needs as they move further down the path of recovery.
Keywords: Confidence; Exercise; Gastric cancer; Oesophageal cancer; Physiotherapy; Rehabilitation.