The Role of Physical Activity in Supporting Health and Wellbeing in Family Caregivers to Cancer Patients
Culos-Reed, S. Nicole
AuthorCuthbert, Colleen, Ann
Committee MemberKing-Shier, Kathryn
Rehabilitation and Therapy
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractCancer is a disease that impacts not only the patient, but also the family. Family members often take on the caregiving role and provide much needed emotional support, instrumental support, help with medical decision making, and physical care when their loved one has cancer. The care that is provided by family members is also an important resource to the cancer care system, when most treatments are delivered in an outpatient setting. While benefitting the cancer care system and providing much needed support to their family member, family caregiving may be detrimental to caregivers’ own physical and psychological health. Research over the last 30 years has documented the many negative impacts of caregiving and has highlighted the need for more studies focused on improving caregivers self-care and physical health. The purpose of this doctoral research was to examine the role of physical activity in supporting health and wellbeing in family caregivers to adult cancer patients. A systematic review was first conducted to synthesize and critically evaluate the evidence for physical activity interventions in family caregivers. Next, a cross sectional survey was conducted to evaluate physical and psychological health, and to assess current levels of, as well as barriers and motivations to physical activity, in men and women caregivers. A randomized controlled trial was then designed and implemented and mixed methods where used to evaluate outcomes on physical health, psychological health, and physical fitness. Findings from this research demonstrate there is a role for physical activity in supporting caregiver health and wellbeing. The results from our randomized controlled trial demonstrated improvements to mental well-being, physical activity levels, and physical fitness. Given some of the caregivers in our survey, and the majority in the randomized control trial, had high levels of depression, anxiety, and poor mental health quality of life, improvements to mental wellbeing through physical activity adds important new evidence about mechanisms to support caregivers. Ongoing work to further examine mechanisms to support caregiver health and wellbeing, and how to effectively deliver sustainable programs, is imperative as caregivers will continue to be relied upon by patients and the cancer care system into the future.
CitationCuthbert, C. (2017). The Role of Physical Activity in Supporting Health and Wellbeing in Family Caregivers to Cancer Patients (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/28344
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