A mixed methods study investigating the effects of a home-based exercise programme on functional outcomes and quality of life in patients with breast cancer undergoing (neo) adjuvant chemotherapy.


Session type:

Alison Kelly1
1Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh



Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the third highest cause of cancer death in the UK. Breast cancer and the consequences of its treatment are associated with a wide range of distressing physical and psychological symptoms. Evidence suggests physical activity can help prevent and manage these symptoms. Decreased functioning and Quality of Life (QoL) have been reported during and after chemotherapy treatment. However limited information exists concerning the relationships among QoL as well as other psychological symptoms during chemotherapy treatments.


A mixed methods approach was implemented using a Pre-Test Post-Test trial design and patient and public involvement. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants of a 10-15 sample size based on criteria. Participants meeting the criteria were referred into the six week HEP in which incorporated two components consisting of a strength exercise and a pedometer based progressive walking program based on the ACSM guidelines. An exercise diary recording any emerging behaviours towards the program was also completed and outcome measures assessed were QoL, Exercise Capacity, Muscle Force and Functional Strength.


Significant improvements were displayed in the 6MWT (6 minute walk test) post 6 weeks of exercise (P = 0.026). No significant difference in EORTC-C30 QLQ, however physical limitations improved post intervention. Thematic analysis of the exercise diaries showed improved perceived QoL and themes were identified as moods, physical effects of chemotherapy and motivational factors affecting QoL and activity.


The study concluded that there were improvements in outcomes and QoL in the study's sample. It concluded that a HEP provides an effective way addressing physical activity and QoL in a format that promotes self-management. Cancer care professionals should consider recommending a HEP to breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and that specific self-reported barriers that affect patients QoL and engagement in exercise needs to be addressed with onward referrals.