While exercise has been demonstrated to improve physical function and wellbeing in people with other cancer diagnoses, no research has examined the potential impact of exercise for HGG patients.
To describe HGG patients’ and carers’ perspectives of the benefits and challenges of participating in a tailored exercise intervention during chemoradiotherapy.
Patients with HGG undergoing chemoradiotherapy received a supervised exercise intervention involving an individualized prescription of moderate intensity aerobic and resistance exercise twice weekly, performed at the hospital when they attended for treatment. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants and their carers to understand their perspectives about the program. Recordings were transcribed and analysed using content analysis.
18 patients and 15 carers were interviewed. The following themes emerged: individually tailored exercise, keeping active, regaining a sense of control, commitment to the program, enjoying exercise again, interacting with people, scheduling exercise into routine and continuing exercise beyond the program. Overall, the exercise program was enjoyed by patients, helped them to feel stronger, enabled them to feel a sense of control and achievement and involved in the fight against their cancer. Although patients were experiencing significant symptoms and side effects including fatigue they were able to continue to participate in the program because it was tailored to how they were feeling each time they attended. Carers were also supportive of the program, highlighting that it improved how the patients were feeling physically and mentally and it also provided them with a much needed break from full-time caring.
Patients and carers expressed positive perceptions and experiences of participating in exercise during chemoradiotherapy. These results support the quantitative pilot study which demonstrated that supervised exercise is feasible, safe and well tolerated by patients receiving chemoradiotherapy for HGG. Randomised controlled trials now need to be conducted with this population.