Changes in Well-Being of Women Cancer Survivors Following a Survivor Weekend Experience

Dana N. Rutledge

Nancy J. Raymon

cancer survivors, psychosocial aspects, psychosocial, quality of life

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the long-term effects on quality of life (QOL) of women cancer survivors following a retreat experience.

Design: One-group repeated measures.

Setting: Southern California.

Sample: Participants in two 1998 Healing Odyssey Retreats (N = 41; response rate 67%). Most women were married (50%), had breast cancer (93%), and had been diagnosed within two years of the retreat (69%). Participants’ mean age was 48 years.

Methods: The rehabilitative retreats took place in a mountain retreat center and consisted of multiple experiences guided by experiential learning theory. Exercises aimed to help women learn new tools for dealing with the challenges of cancer, treatment, and recovery. The QOLBreast Cancer survey was used to collect data preretreat, immediately postretreat, at six weeks postretreat, and at six to seven months postretreat.

Main Research Variables: QOL subscale scores (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being) and overall QOL scores.

Findings: At preretreat, women scored lower on psychological and social well-being than on physical and spiritual well-being. Total QOL, physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being scores differed significantly over time, with a significant increase immediately following the retreat that was maintained at six weeks and six months. Social well-being at six months was significantly greater than at the other three points.

Conclusions: The Healing Odyssey Retreats enhanced women cancer survivors’ total QOL—specifically their wellbeing in four dimensions.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Women who seek programs dealing with living life more fully after cancer and connections with other survivors may benefit from rehabilitative efforts such as this retreat.

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