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Open Access Article

Effects of Social Support on Physical Activity, Self-Efficacy, and Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivors and Their Caregivers

social support, physical activity, exercise, self-efficacy, quality of life, caregivers, adult cancer survivors
ONF 2013, 40(5), 481-489. DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.481-489

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the relationships between adult cancer survivor and caregiver social support, self-efficacy for physical activity (SEPA), physical activity (PA) behavior, and quality of life (QOL); and to understand cancer survivors' and their caregivers' perceptions of social support in PA participation.

Design: Quasi-experimental.

Setting: Five community-based exercise sites located in East Texas.

Sample: 101 adult cancer survivors and caregivers.

Methods: Participants completed questionnaires, the 8-Foot Up-and-Go test, and open-ended questions. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and frequencies, Spearman's rho, Mann-Whitney U, and Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Main Research Variables: Social support, SEPA, PA, and QOL.

Findings: Physical QOL was significantly higher in caregivers than cancer survivors. Spearman's rho identified a negative relationship between physical QOL and PA in cancer survivors; and a significant relationship between PA and PA participation in caregivers with social support from friend. Three themes emerged from the qualitative data regarding the perception of social support: companionship, motivation, and health promotion.

Conclusions: Caregivers have higher QOL despite being the major social support provider to cancer survivors. Social support is essential to PA participation.

Implications for Nursing: Interventions to increase PA in adult cancer survivors may consider encouraging their caregivers to actively participate.

Knowledge Translation: Caregivers play an important role in the PA of cancer survivors. Perceived social support in the form of companionship and motivation may increase PA in cancer survivors and caregivers. Therefore, nurses may consider educating cancer survivors and caregivers on the importance of adopting and maintaining PA throughout the cancer care continuum.

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