Pilot study of a self-administered stress management and exercise intervention during chemotherapy for cancer
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Goals of work
This pilot project explored the feasibility, safety, and effectiveness of a self-administered exercise and stress management intervention for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Patients and methods
Thirty-nine of 56 eligible patients (acceptance =69%) with a variety of solid tumors volunteered for the study. Participants were advised to exercise 20–40 min at 50–75% estimated heart rate reserve 3–5 times per week. In addition, patients were provided with instruction and written materials regarding stress management techniques. Follow-up data were collected during regularly scheduled outpatient visits at the start of the second, third, and fourth chemotherapy cycles using diary entries and the same questionnaires previously administered at baseline.
Twenty-four of 39 patients (62%) completed all study requirements. These participants completed 438 of the 678 exercise sessions assigned (adherence =62%). Of the stress management techniques, positive thinking most practiced most frequently (48%), followed by deep breathing (38%) and active relaxation (37%). Paired t tests, comparing baseline values with final recorded values, indicated a significant improvement over time in bodily pain (p<0.03) and mental health (p<0.04) subscale scores. Participants’ evaluations of the combined intervention were favorable: 90% felt it was helpful to them and 100% would recommend it to another patient.
A self-administered intervention combining aerobic exercise and stress management was acceptable and safe for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Preliminary data demonstrating intervention efficacy should be confirmed in subsequent randomized clinical trials.
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