Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

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College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Max Ito

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


The aim of this study is to describe breast cancer survivors' experiences and the associated meanings participating in their important activities during and after breast cancer treatment and the relationship among the survivor, environment, occupation, and performance, using a concurrent mixed method design. Ten survivors between the ages of 45 and 64 with Stage I, II, or III breast cancer who had been treated consecutively with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy were recruited for the study. Each survivor completed the Activity Card Sort-modified scoring system (ACSm) during the first and last week of radiation therapy and 3 and 6 months post radiation therapy. Additionally, each survivor participated in a semi-structured interview at the end of radiation therapy and 6 months afterwards. Qualitative data was analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to understand the survivors' experiences participating in their most important activities. The means and standard deviations of the proportion of activities resumed for the participants' global and category activities were calculated at each time point. A desire to resume participation in meaningful activities emerged from the data and demonstrated the interrelationship between environment, person, and occupation. Themes from the last week of radiation were (a) individual outlook influences how activities are approached, (b) social support reduces the stress of life, (c) side effects influence how activities are completed, and (d) personal and treatment stresses and struggles influenced their perspectives on life. At 6 months post radiation therapy, the themes were (a) emotional effect on activities, (b) life after cancer has changed due to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and (c) side effects continue to influence daily activities. Using the seven stages of analyzing mixed method data developed by Onwuegbuzie and Teddlie (2003), the qualitative and quantitative data were integrated. The results illustrated that the participants resumed a greater proportion of instrumental activities, which were reported consistently as one of their five most important activities. Additionally, supportive extrinsic factors appeared to be more influential in resuming participation important activities than intrinsic factors. Findings from this study support using the Person-Environment-Occupational-Performance (PEOP) model to develop treatment plans for women undergoing or recovering from breast cancer treatment.


Occupational Therapy


Health and environmental sciences, Breast neoplasms, Cancer survivors, Extrinsic factor, Intrinsic factor, Occupations, Social support

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