Purpose/objectives: To examine the effects of a comprehensive rehabilitation program on facilitating physical and psychosocial adaptation of women with breast cancer who are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.
Setting: Breast evaluation clinics of two New England medical centers with comprehensive cancer treatment programs.
Sample: 14 women (mean age = 44 years) receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer (86% stage II) following surgical treatment.
Methods: Subjects were assigned randomly to the experimental group or the usual care group. Experimental group members began a structured exercise program of walking and attended support group meetings. All subjects were tested before beginning chemotherapy, during the course of chemotherapy, and one month following chemotherapy completion.
Main research variables: Performance status, physical functioning, psychosocial adjustment, self-concept and body image, and 12 symptoms (e.g., fatigue, nausea, anxiety).
Findings: Measures of physical performance, psychosocial adjustment, and symptom intensity revealed improved adaptation in subjects who completed the walking/support group program.
Conclusions: Physical and psychosocial benefits from a modest walking exercise program and a support group are possible for patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.
Implications for nursing practice: Although more detailed research is necessary to answer some of the questions raised by this study, implementing the walking program and forming a support group are achievable in an outpatient setting.