The aim was to assess feasibility of a 3?+?1 week inpatient rehabilitation program for cancer survivors, to explore characteristics of the attending participants and examine changes in work status, symptoms and functioning, level of fatigue, exercise and physical performance following rehabilitation.
This was an open intervention study involving cancer survivors having completed primary cancer treatment. The multidisiplinary program consisted of physical training, patient education and group sessions. Participant were assessed at primary stay (T0), at follow-up stay 8-12 weeks later (T1), and six months after T1 (T2). Symptoms and functioning were assessed by the European Organization for Research and Treatment Core Quality-of-Life Questionnaire, physical fatigue by Fatigue Questionnaire, physical exercise by The Nord- Trøndelag Health Study Physical Activity Questionnaire and physical performance by aerobic capacity (VO(2max)), 30 second Sit-to-stand (STS) and Maximum Step Length (MSL). Linear mixed models were used in analyses.
One hundred and thirty-four of 163 included participants (82%) completed both rehabilitation stays and returned questionaires at T2. The majority of completers were females (81%), breast cancer survivors (60%), highly educated and with mean age of 52.8 years (SD of 8.1). Participants had higher level of symptoms and fatigue and lower functioning at admission compared to a Norwegian reference population. However, they reported higher physical exercise level and 47% reported improved work status from T0 to T2. Symptoms and functioning, fatigue, physical exercise and physical performance improved significantly from T0 to T1 and were maintained at T2.
The rehabilitation program was feasible and symptoms and functioning normalized following rehabilitation. The program mainly recruited well-educated breast cancer survivors, reporting relative high level of physical exercise. More focus should be put on recruiting and selecting those who need comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation and also compare the effects of inpatient with outpatient rehabilitation programs.