Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1697–1708 | Cite as

A focus group study exploring gynecological cancer survivors’ experiences and perceptions of participating in a RCT testing the efficacy of a home-based physical activity intervention

  • C. M. Donnelly
  • A. Lowe-Strong
  • J. P. Rankin
  • A. Campbell
  • J. M. Blaney
  • J. H. GraceyEmail author
Original Article



This study aims to explore gynecological cancer survivors' perceptions and experiences following participation in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) testing the efficacy of a home-based physical activity behavioral change intervention (Donnelly et al., Gynecol Oncol 122:618–624, 2011).


All participants completing a two-armed parallel RCT were invited to participate in the study (31/33) (Donnelly et al., Gynecol Oncol 122:618–624, 2011). Sixteen participants took part (16/31; physical activity (PA) group n = 9, contact control (CC) group n = 7). Four qualitative group interviews were conducted (focus group size 3–5). A structured interview guide was followed by an independent moderator. Groups were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the framework approach (Ritchie and Spencer 2001), a five-stage qualitative method of analysis.


One of the most unanimously perceived benefits of taking part in the programme regarded participants' psychological well-being. Additional benefits included improved physical fitness and functioning. Important programme features included the weekly telephone calls from a physiotherapist, the patient–professional relationship, and goal setting. Participants' own motivation and programme timing were also identified as important factors. Suggestions for improvements include: opportunities for social interaction with other gynecological cancer survivors and greater exercise choice.


Findings suggest that women diagnosed with gynecological cancer perceive participation in physical activity as important and participation provides benefits in terms of psychological well-being and improved physical functioning. Support for continuation of many of the current features of the home-based programme was provided. Findings provide insight and rationale for the selection of components for future home-based physical activity interventions. Findings also support further research into the development of multidimensional interventions for the gynecological cancer population.


Physical activity Cancer Fatigue Gynecological cancer 



This study was supported by the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland. The authors also thank Dr. Karen Beattie (focus group moderator, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland).

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

520_2012_1716_MOESM1_ESM.doc (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Donnelly
    • 1
  • A. Lowe-Strong
    • 1
  • J. P. Rankin
    • 2
  • A. Campbell
    • 3
  • J. M. Blaney
    • 2
  • J. H. Gracey
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research CentreUniversity of UlsterNewtownabbeyUK
  2. 2.Physiotherapy Department, Cancer Centre, Belfast Health and Social Care TrustBelfastUK
  3. 3.University of DundeeDundeeUK

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