Purpose: While exercise is an effective intervention used to minimize side effects associated with chemotherapy, tai chi (TC) exercise for persons actively receiving chemotherapy remains understudied. The purposes of this study were to (a) evaluate the effects of TC on self-efficacy, quality of life (QOL), and cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and (b) understand the experience and perceived benefits of patients taking chemotherapy involved in a TC program. Design: An explanatory sequential mixed methods study with a dominant qualitative strand was used to explore the differences between an intervention group participating in TC (n = 3) and a nonexercising, wait-listed comparison group (n = 3). Method: Following 8-weeks of TC classes, a focus group was conducted with the intervention group. Pretest/posttest scores for CRF, self-efficacy, and QOL were analyzed using t tests to compare the means between and within groups. Thematic analysis was used to interpret transcripts. Quantitative and qualitative results were compared to determine congruence between findings. Findings: Qualitative findings revealed increased mind/body strength. Quantitative scores trended toward improved CRF, self-efficacy, and QOL. Findings from the two strands supported one another. Conclusions: Tai chi is an effective and feasible exercise for individuals with cancer receiving chemotherapy. This mind-body exercise appears to provide benefits beyond improved physical functioning.
Keywords: chemotherapy; exercise; fatigue; quality of life; self-efficacy; tai chi.