14th Dec 2023
Introduction: During childhood cancer treatment, there is a detrimental impact on physical activity (PA) and increased sedentary behaviour not only for the child but also for all family members. Participating in family-based PA would help maintain a child’s fitness during treatment, this is preferable to recovering deficits post-treatment. This study aimed to explore parents’ perceptions of barriers and facilitators for family-based PA during a child’s cancer treatment.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n =18) with parents of children who have received treatment explored barriers and facilitators to PA. Parents were eligible if their child was initially diagnosed: 1) between the ages of 3 and 16 years old; 2) over three months ago and it was no more than five years since treatment completion. Interviews were transcribed and inductively analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
Results: Parents’ perceived barriers and facilitators to their family being physically active were organised into themes: a) initial impact of treatment, b) psychological repercussions from treatment, c) social and interpersonal connections, and d) life out and about. Key subthemes were a) the child’s health and knowledge surrounding treatment side-effects, b) competing demands and c) maintaining stability within the household. Providing support for families and equipping parents with knowledge whilst using the family unit to support PA were key facilitators to PA.
Conclusions: This study identified barriers and facilitators to family-based PA from the parents’ perspective. The connections within the family are key facilitators of PA for all family members. Future research should develop interventions to address barriers such as knowledge of treatment side-effects and time spent in the hospital to promote PA in families when a child is undergoing cancer treatment.