Factors That Affect Intention to Avoid Strenuous Arm Activity After Breast Cancer Surgery

Teresa S. Lee

Sharon L. Kilbreath

Gerard Sullivan

Kathryn M. Refshauge

Jane M. Beith

Lynne M. Harris

physical activity, surgery, breast neoplasms
ONF 2009, 36(4), 454-462. DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.454-462

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the factors that contribute to women's intention to avoid strenuous arm activity after breast cancer surgery.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Three hospitals located in eastern Australia.

Sample: 175 patients with breast cancer.

Methods: A survey, based on Protection Motivation Theory, was used to assess whether treatment variables, demographic variables, arm advice, fear, or coping attributes predicted women's intentions to avoid strenuous arm activity.

Main Research Variables: Intention to avoid strenuous arm activity, presence of arm or chest symptoms, receipt of arm care advice, and fear of lymphedema.

Findings: Seventy percent of participants reported an intention to avoid strenuous activity with their affected arm and reported more arm and chest symptoms than participants who did not avoid strenuous arm activity. Women who perceived that they were vulnerable to lymphedema and women who received advice about arm care were more likely to avoid strenuous arm activity.

Conclusions: Fear of lymphedema and receipt of arm care advice motivated women's intention to avoid strenuous arm activity.

Implications for Nursing: Information about lymphedema distributed to patients by healthcare professionals should be updated to reflect evidence and address the risk of developing lymphedema relevant to the patients' surgery.

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