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The Efficacy of Participation in a Survivorship Program on Functional Abilities and Quality of Life in Cancer Survivors: A Descriptive, Retrospective Study

Palmer, Phillip B., PT, PhD1; Wallace, Katie, PT, DPT, STAR/C2; Clay, David, DPT3; Gill, Corey, DPT3; Moore, Kelly, DPT3


Background: Cancer survival rates are increasing and survivors are living with the negative effects of cancer and its treatments resulting in decreased quality of life (QOL).

Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of participation in a survivorship program on QOL.

Design: This study was a case series.

Methods: Medical records of 8 individuals were reviewed. Data collected included type of cancer, date of diagnosis, reasons for referral, medical treatment, description of the rehabilitation program, results of the initial and final examinations, and demographic data. Outcomes included the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Fatigue (FACIT-F), Numeric Rating Scales for pain and fatigue, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group's (ECOG) Performance Status Scale, Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT), Timed Up and Go (TUG), and the Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA).

Data Analysis: Only subjects who had values for initial and follow-up tests for the outcomes were included in the analysis. Differences between the initial and follow-up values were calculated and categorized. Change scores were compared with the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) or the minimal detectable change (MDC) reported in the literature.

Results: On 4 of the variables (Tinetti, FACIT-F, TUG, 6MWT - distance), 60% or more of the subjects improved. Two of 4 individuals had values that exceeded the MCID on the 6MWT-D.

Conclusions: The results suggest that survivorship programs may have a positive impact on QOL. More research should be done.

Limitations: The small sample size and missing data made drawing definitive conclusions difficult.

1Associate Professor, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA

2Physical Therapist, The Rehabilitation Institute, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, GA

3At the time of the study, s/he was a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA

Address correspondence to: Phillip B. Palmer, PT, PhD, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, University of North Georgia, 159 Sunset Drive, HNS 465, Dahlonega, GA 30597, Ph: (706) 864-1469, Fax: (706) 864-1493 (

©2015 (C) Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, APTA
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