28th Apr 2023
Introduction: During a child’s cancer treatment there is a detrimental impact on physical activity (PA) for all family members. This study aimed to explore parents’ experience of family-based PA, perceived effects of PA on mental and physical health, and perceived barriers and facilitators to PA for the family during a child’s cancer treatment.
Methods: Parents of children who have received cancer treatment (n=18) participated in a semi-structured interview to explore their family’s PA. Parents were eligible if their child was initially diagnosed: 1) between 3 and 16 years old; 2) over three months ago and was within 5 years of treatment completion. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
Results: Parents’ perceived barriers to their family being physically active included: side effects from treatment on the physical capability of the child; parents trust in others to be physically active with their child; lack of knowledge of feasible activities and safe, accessible locations to visit. Barriers to parent PA included: change of priorities; tiredness; lacking motivation and confidence in their PA ability; not wanting to leave their child (or having someone trusted to leave their child with); and limited access to PA facilities or resources. Parents recognised PA could help to process events, function as a distractor, and improve mental and physical health.
Conclusions: This study identified parents’ perceived barriers, facilitators and experiences of family-based PA. Parents recognised the benefits of PA; however, PA was not prioritised for themselves or for the child receiving treatment. Future research should develop interventions addressing these barriers to promote PA in families when a child is undergoing treatment.