Background A number of studies have established the benefit of exercise as part of a palliative care programme (Van den Dungen et al., 2014; Salakari et al., 2015; Malcolm et al., 2016; Paltiel et al., 2009), however, there are still research questions to answer about the effects of group exercise interventions.
Aim To assess the impact on the patients’ physical and psychosocial wellbeing of an eight week group exercise programme with individualised goals.
Methods We conducted a quantitative and qualitative analysis on data collected from the 19 adult patients included in the study (17 cancer diagnosis, 1 pulmonary fibrosis, 1 neurodegenerative condition). Inclusion criteria: patient willing to participate in a group exercise programme and able to complete the baseline assessment (6 min walk test, Timed up and go, Berg balance scale, EORTC QLQ-C30, HADS, open text questions about their experience of undertaking the intervention).
Results Data suggest an improvement in physical function and minimal changes in psychological function. Returned questionnaires advise that peer and professional support, investment in the patient‘s goals and a general openness to share and discuss experiences seem to be key elements in the observed positive reframing of the experience of illness and present and future deterioration. We observed increased sense of control, social participation and enjoyment of life.
Conclusions Despite limitations (small sample, no control group), we were able to explore how personalised exercises in a small group can foster patients‘ resilience possibly through the reappraisal of their condition (Monroe & Oliviere, 2007) and a reconnection with their own body and experience (Morgan et al., 2017). Interestingly, it was not always straightforward to link data with what was observed clinically and reported by patients e.g., deterioration in tests but improvement in function and general wellbeing. From what was observed, a group exercise intervention in palliative care seems feasible, cost-effective and valid in improving physical and psychosocial wellbeing in the population studied. A control group is to be considered to deepen the analysis.
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