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Qualitative study of caregivers’ participating in structured physical activity program

Key Message

Caregivers valued the exercise programme, experienced positivity through exercise and the group-based format, and noticed improvements to their physical and emotional well-being.


Cuthbert, C.A. et al. (2017). Creating an upward spiral: A qualitative study of caregivers' experience of participating in a structured physical activity programme. European Journal of Cancer Care. 00:e12684. DOI: 10.1111/ecc.12684


Family caregivers' physical and emotional well-being may be negatively impacted while in the caregiver role. Interventions to support caregiver health have largely focused on psychological support, with only one qualitative study to date examining caregivers' perspectives on the value and impact of this type of intervention. This qualitative study was part of a larger mixed methods investigation including a randomised controlled trial investigating the effects of a 24-week exercise programme for cancer caregivers conducted in western Canada. We aimed to explore cancer family caregivers' experience of participating in a structured exercise programme.


Transcribed data from face-to-face interviews with 20 of the participants was analysed using Thorne's interpretive description as a guiding framework. Two main patterns characterised the experiences of the caregivers. The metaphor of a downward spiral represented the experience of being in the caregiver role, while the metaphor of an upward spiral represented the experience of participating in the exercise programme. 

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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