Date Presented 04/21/2023

Cancer significantly affects function and engagement in meaningful occupations. This exploratory study showed that challenges were identified by women with cancer in diverse occupational areas, and their demographics did not affect these challenges.

Primary Author and Speaker: Hannah Goldberg-O'Neil

Additional Authors and Speakers: Colleen Maher, Rochelle Mendonca

There is an increase in the numbers of individuals living with cancer, but with limitations in physical, social, and emotional functioning. This retrospective study explored the most common occupational performance challenges identified by women impacted by cancer and the relationship between demographics and occupational deficits. The original population of women impacted by cancer were recruited from activity based community camps over a span of 7 years. The women came from urban, suburban and rural communities. During the program, data was collected using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure to determine which occupations were impacted for these women. Anonymous demographic data were also obtained. Data was obtained for 111 women across a range of ages and ethinicities. Women identified challenges in all areas of occupation including activities of daily living (n=147), instrumental activities of daily living (n=214), rest and sleep (n=6), education (n=23), work (n=19), play (n=11), leisure (n=42), and social participation (n=46). Some of the most commonly identified sub-occupations included climbing up and down stairs (n=29), driving (n=15), budgeting (n=16), taking medications (n=9), opening containers (n=14), dealing with problems (n=16), managing responsibilities (n=11), being punctual (n=11), to name a few. Regression analyses showed that there were no relationships between age, race, medication use, and occupational challenges. Results highlight that although these women are living in the community, they still experience significant difficulties with occupational performance. This study also established that these challenges did not vary across the women by age or ethnicity, which highlight that OTs should be intervening across demographic groups. This study has significant practice implications and provide evidence for intervention by occupational therapists, potentially starting in the acute phase and continuing in community based settings.


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