Colorectal cancer patients’ experiences with supervised exercise during adjuvant chemotherapy—A qualitative study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2021. 10.1111/sms.14048
Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a common cancer worldwide, with increasing numbers surviving and living with long-term side effects from treatment. Physical exercise during or after treatment may have several beneficial effects, but knowledge of CRC patients’ reflections on exercising during adjuvant therapy is limited. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of CRC patients participating in a supervised exercise program during adjuvant chemotherapy. Methods: This study included CRC patients participating in two intervention studies with individually tailored and supervised combinations of endurance, resistance, and balance exercises during adjuvant chemotherapy. Semi-structured interviews performed at the beginning, during, and immediately after the intervention period from 15 participants were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Four main themes identified were “structuring life with cancer,” “motivation to exercise,” “training experiences,” and “effects of exercise.” Scheduled appointments gave structure to daily life and served as an external motivational factor. The individual adjustments of exercise gave a sense of security and helped improving adherence, especially when feeling depressed or fatigued. Common expectations were improvement of endurance and strength and counteracting negative effects of chemotherapy. Experienced positive effects from exercising, both mentally and physically, contributed to inner motivation and inspired continued exercising after the study period. Conclusion: This study offers important insights into CRC patients’ experiences of participating in a physical exercise program during adjuvant chemotherapy. Based on our findings, we recommend supervised and individually tailored physical exercise during adjuvant chemotherapy to this patient group.