Livsey, Leanne and Lewis, Kiara (2017) Breast cancer survivors’ perceptions of participating in a supervised exercise intervention: A systematic, critical review of the qualitative literature. Women & Health. ISSN 0363-0242

Background. Despite the reported beneficial effects of physical activity (PA) during and after cancer diagnosis, current research data suggest that the percentages of breast cancer survivors who adhere to PA recommendations are low. The aim of the present systematic, critical review was to identify, analyze and provide a summary of qualitative literature findings, which have explored breast cancer survivors’ experiences of participating in an exercise/PA intervention after cancer treatment.

Methods. A systematic search was conducted using CINAHL, PsychINFO, PubMed and Scopus electronic databases to search for qualitative literature published during 2000–2016. A total of six studies which met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Thematic synthesis, following Thomas and Harden’s (2008) methods, were used to analyze the data.

Findings. Seven descriptive themes were developed: control, focus, transitioning phase, regaining a sense of confidence, enhanced spirits, social support and safe environment. The findings suggested that participation in supervised exercise interventions enhanced breast cancer survivors’ self-confidence and mood. It allowed them to regain control and provide a focus, therefore allowing them to move forward in their lives.

Conclusion. The results of this systematic critical review indicated that supervised exercise was a positive experience for breast cancer survivors.

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