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Physical Activity and Quality of Life in Cancer Survivors: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Research

School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS29JT, UK
School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON K1N6N5, Canada
Integrative Physiology and Critical Illness Group, Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Critical Care Research Area, Southampton NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
Anaesthesia and Critical Care Research Unit, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
Academic Unit of Cancer Sciences, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
Institut du Savoir de l’Hôpital Montfort (IRHM), Hôpital Montfort, Ottawa ON K1K 0T2, Canada
Cancer Therapeutic Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), Ottawa ON K1H 8L6, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Siu Fun Wong
Cancers 2017, 9(5), 53;
Received: 14 January 2017 / Revised: 6 April 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 20 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality of Life for Cancer Patients)
Qualitative research on the impact of physical activity on quality of life (QoL) in adults diagnosed with cancer is accumulating. However, the field of physical activity and cancer survivorship lack a synthesis of this research to reliably understand the implications for future research and practice. The aim of this meta-synthesis was to identify, appraise, and synthesize qualitative research on cancer survivors’ perspectives of the impact of physical activity on their QoL. Seven electronic databases were searched for original studies published in English, and reference lists of relevant studies were hand-searched to identify additional studies. Forty studies met eligibility criteria and were included in this meta-synthesis. Study characteristics and major findings were extracted, and findings were summarized, compared, and synthesized. Themes identified in this review revealed that physical activity positively impacted four dimensions of cancer survivors’ QoL: physical (e.g., managing the physical consequences of cancer and its treatment), psychological (e.g., evoking positive self-perceptions), social (e.g., feeling understood by others), and spiritual (e.g., redefining life purpose). This meta-synthesis corroborates conclusions from reviews of quantitative research and illustrates that physical activity can be used to improve QoL in adult cancer survivors, regardless of diagnosis (i.e., stage, cancer type) and treatment status. It also provides detailed insight into specific aspects within each dimension of QoL impacted by physical activity from cancer survivors’ perspectives, which is important for understanding the meaning and utility of physical activity for them. However, more research is needed to further develop the qualitative evidence base in order to better understand how physical activity impacts on QoL experiences in men, young adults, and adults diagnosed with less common types of cancer at different points along cancer trajectory (i.e., diagnosis, treatment, post-treatment, palliation). View Full-Text
Keywords: quality of life; physical activity; cancer; qualitative research quality of life; physical activity; cancer; qualitative research
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Burke, S.; Wurz, A.; Bradshaw, A.; Saunders, S.; West, M.A.; Brunet, J. Physical Activity and Quality of Life in Cancer Survivors: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Research. Cancers 2017, 9, 53.

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