Date Presented 04/21/2023

A cancer survivorship program of occupation-based group intervention is described, including the impact on participants’ levels of distress, meaning and purpose, and psychosocial impact of illness.

Primary Author and Speaker: Heidi Nicole Kreis

Additional Authors and Speakers: Ayoola Ajani, Logan Leggett, Lynne Murphy

PURPOSE: Although cancer survivorship is growing, medical models do not address persistent deficits that influence social participation, leisure, and wellbeing. Occupational therapy remains underutilized in cancer survivorship. This study examined the experiences and effect of group engagement in meaningful occupations on psychosocial wellbeing of adult cancer survivors.

DESIGN: This convergent mixed-methods pilot study explored the impact of group engagement in occupations on cancer survivors. Quantitative measures included Distress Thermometer, PROMIS-Meaning and Purpose, and PROMIS-Psychosocial Impact (Positive). Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and field notes.

METHOD: Participants met for 8 weeks of occupation-based group intervention, with post-testing currently in progress. Quantitative analysis using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test will be merged with narrative qualitative analysis.

RESULTS: Three female breast cancer survivors completed the program (x age = 66; time since last treatment x = 26.3 months, SD = 12.5). Pre-test data indicated Distress Thermometer x = 6.0 (0-10 scale). Meaning and Purpose x slightly above general population µ and Psychosocial Impact x slightly below clinical sample µ (cancer). Field notes indicated wide-ranging positive benefits, and interview data is currently being analyzed.

CONCLUSION: Convergence of qualitative and quantitative analysis will identify the influence of this occupation-based group on psychosocial wellbeing, the experience of meaning and purpose, and reduction to distress for cancer survivors, as well as additional themes regarding the experience. Study repetition with larger sample will allow for more rigorous analysis.

IMPACT STATEMENT: This research supports occupational therapy group intervention in cancer survivorship that extends beyond the reach of the medical model and can provide guidelines for development of occupational therapy programming for this population.


Hwang, E. J., Lokietz, N. C., Lozano, R. L., & Parke, M. A. (2015). Functional deficits and quality of life among cancer survivors: Implications for occupational therapy in cancer survivorship care. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6).

Murphy, L., Ellis, K., Fox, N., Lee, S., Lennon, R., & Norton, G. (2021). Impact of a cancer survivorship program on well-being and community involvement: Role of OT and future directions. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(Supplement_2), 7512505148-7512505148p1. (Note: presented as Research Platform AOTA Inspire 2022)

Polo, K. M., & Smith, C. (2017). Centennial Topics—Taking our seat at the table: Community cancer survivorship. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(2).

Udovicich, A., Foley, K.R., Bull, D., & Salehi, N. (2020). Occupational therapy group interventions in oncology: A scoping review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(4).