Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Evaluation of a One-Week, Occupation-Based Program on the Health and Participation of Women With Cancer
Author Affiliations
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
  • Temple University
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Evaluation of a One-Week, Occupation-Based Program on the Health and Participation of Women With Cancer
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515157.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515157.

Date Presented 4/17/2015

This study investigated the effectiveness of a 1-wk, occupation-based program on functional performance of women diagnosed with cancer. Results demonstrate that participation in occupations improves the perception of performance and satisfaction for the participants.

SIGNIFICANCE/BACKGROUND: Improvements with early detection and medical treatments have led to women with cancer living longer in the community. However, there are limited services that help these women reengage in occupations when they are in treatment or on completion of treatment. The demand to provide services for this growing population of cancer survivors is becoming a national concern and requires occupational therapists (OTs) to address their multifaceted needs. The purpose of this research study was to engage women diagnosed with cancer in activities that have a physical, social, and emotional impact. This intervention is expected to improve the long-term quality of life of women with cancer.
INNOVATION: Camp-based approaches have been used with children with cancer, and the positive outcomes have been significant in terms of physical, emotional, and social well-being—mainly due to a nonhospital environment, interaction with individuals with similar experiences, and continuous daily interaction. However, this approach has never been tested in adults. This program was developed using extensive literature and an approach of immersing women diagnosed with cancer in activities to help them realize that they are still capable of engaging in all activities that are meaningful to them.
This study attempted to answer the following research question: Does engagement in occupations through a 1-wk, occupation-based program improve the health and participation of women diagnosed with cancer?
METHOD: Eight 1-wk, occupation-based camps were conducted to target women diagnosed with cancer. Participants were obtained through advertising at community-based cancer programs. A pretest–posttest, repeated-measures design was used. Prior to the start of the program, participants completed the Short Form—36 (SF–36), the World Health Organization Quality of Life—BREF (WHOQOL–BREF), and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM). The program spanned 5 days from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily with four to five activities, including dance, meditation, gardening, arts, craft, healthy cooking, exercise, and poetry. A follow-up meeting was held 6 wk after completion of the program, and participants completed the three assessments again.
RESULTS: A total of 51 clients were recruited. The clients ranged in diversity, with age ranges from 27 to 70 yr, socioeconomic strata from low to high, and different ethnicities. Paired sample t tests were conducted to measure differences in assessment scores before the start of the program and 6 wk after the program. In the COPM, in both the areas of performance and satisfaction, a significant difference was obtained in the scores before and 6 wk after completion (p < .001). For the SF–36 and the WHOQOL–BREF, there were no significant differences before and after the program.
CONCLUSION: The results of this study establish that participation in an occupation-focused program improves the clients’ perceptions of their performance and satisfaction. However, it also indicates that outcome measures need to be chosen carefully for community-based health and wellness programs. The study had a limited number of participants; however, the initial results highlight the value of this programming for women living in the community who have gone through a life-changing diagnosis and may not have reengaged in their occupational roles on completion of treatment.
American Cancer Society. (2012). Breast cancer facts and figures: 2011–2012. Retrieved from
Hvizdala, E., Miale, T. D., & Barnard, P. J. (1978). A summer camp for children with cancer. Medical and Pediatric Oncology, 4, 71–75.