Eric J. Hwang, Nicole C. Lokietz, Rachel L. Lozano, Megan A. Parke; Functional Deficits and Quality of Life Among Cancer Survivors: Implications for Occupational Therapy in Cancer Survivorship Care. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(6):6906290010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015974
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
This study aimed to explore functional deficits and perceived quality of life (QoL) among cancer survivors. Sixty-six participants completed the Post Cancer Outcome Survey developed for the purpose of this study. The results indicated (1) modest to moderate degrees of functional deficits in 28 of the 70 items measuring areas of occupation, performance skills, body functions, and psychosocial well-being within the first year after cancer treatment; (2) significantly lower perceived QoL during the first year of survivorship compared with that before diagnosis, at present, and 5 yr hereafter (p < .001); (3) significant moderate negative correlations between the reported functional deficits and QoL (rs = –.45 to –.57); and (4) a very low percentage of participants (4.5%) receiving occupational therapy during the first year posttreatment. Functional difficulties and compromised QoL identified in this study indicate the need for occupational therapy among cancer survivors. Increasing clients’ awareness of occupational therapy for postcancer care is also suggested.
Client-centered evaluation should begin with an occupational history interview emphasizing the client’s strengths and coping strategies followed by careful assessment of limitations in various occupations and roles within the context of the client’s lifestyle demands and choices.
Wide-ranging approaches can be integrated into the client’s holistic treatment plan to improve various symptom-specific problems and occupation-based issues, such as energy conservation and coping and relaxation techniques for managing pain, fatigue, and sleep difficulty; exercise or leisure programs to improve strength and mobility; cognitive strategies, activity and work adaptation, and assistive technology to optimize performance in activities of daily living, education, and employment; support and volunteer groups for preventing social isolation and promoting psychosocial well-being; and lifestyle consultation for enhancing health and QoL.
Increased awareness of occupational therapy by clients and by practitioners (e.g., physicians, oncologists, nurse practitioners) can enhance access to and utilization of occupational therapy services in cancer survivorship care.
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