Exercise-Never Too Late: The Meaning of Exercise for Advanced Palliative Care Patients

Roslyn Joy Savage, Jill Gibbons, Kathy Potter

Abstract


Objective: Increasing evidence supports the role of exercise for palliative care patients through maximizing physical function, improving fatigue and overall quality of life in the face of advancing disease. The objective of this study was to explore the meaning of exercise for these patients and their carers and to increase the understanding and value of exercise for this population.

Methods: An emergent qualitative study design was employed using semi structured interviews with patients attending a palliative care gym program and their carers. Thirteen patients and seven carers participated.Interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim and analyzed to identify common themes.

Results: Patients and carers identified improvement in strength, confidence and mood that enabled greater participation in life. Access to an open flexible program that allowed patients control of their exercise was important. Exercise contributed to promoting self identity and as a consequence provided a source of inner strength. Benefit was also felt from the shared positive experience in a safe environment. Carers used the session as a form of respite or opportunity for  interaction.

Conclusions: Patients perceive exercise as important as it enables independence but it also provides significant psychosocial and spiritual support. Carers similarly identify the benefits beyond improved physical function. Exercise is a positive treatment regime that contributes to wholistic care.


Keywords


palliative care

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ISSN: 2291-918X