Background. Despite the reported beneficial effects of physical activity (PA) during and after cancer diagnosis, current research data suggest that the percentages of breast cancer survivors who adhere to PA recommendations are low. The objective of the present systematic, critical review was to identify, analyze, and provide a summary of qualitative literature findings, which have explored breast cancer survivors’ experiences of participating in an exercise/PA intervention after cancer treatment.
Methods. A systematic search was conducted using CINAHL, PsychINFO, PubMed, and Scopus electronic databases to search for qualitative literature published during 2000–2016. A total of six studies that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Thematic synthesis, following Thomas and Harden’s methods, were used to analyze the data.
Findings. Seven descriptive themes were developed: control, focus, transitioning phase, regaining a sense of confidence, enhanced spirits, social support, and safe environment. The findings suggested that participation in supervised exercise interventions enhanced the self-confidence and mood of breast cancer survivors. It allowed them to regain control and provide a focus, thereby allowing them to move forward in their lives.
Conclusion. The results of this systematic critical review indicated that the supervised exercise was a positive experience for breast cancer survivors.
- Breast cancer
- physical activity