Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lois O. Gonzalez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda E. Moody, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Brent J. Small, Ph.D.


Breast cancer, Exercise, Fatigue, Support, Uncertainty


Background: Breast cancer and its treatment often result in side effects that persist long after treatment has ended. The increased survival rate for breast cancer has allowed for the study of the physical and psychosocial symptoms that persist into the post-treatment period. Although research has tested various interventions and demonstrated improvement in some symptoms, no standard of care exists for management of symptoms in the post- treatment period as part of the continuum of care. Objective: The aim of this research was to examine the effects of a comprehensive recovery program of education, exercise, and support for breast cancer survivors and to compare the results to a control group. Method: This experimental study used a convenience sample of 17 women who participated in a structured breast cancer recovery program over a 10-week period, and compared them to a control group of 13 survivors who did not participate in a structured program over a 10- week period. Data were collected on demographic and personal characteristics, extent of disease, and type of treatment. The two subject groups were compared on their self-report responses of physical and social functioning as measured by the SF-36©, their level of distress from fatigue as measured by the Cancer Fatigue Related Distress Scale, and their degree of uncertainty as measured by the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale. The subjects completed these self-reports at three time points: week 1, week 5, and week 10. Results: There were no significant demographic differences between the experimental and the control group. Repeated measures ANOVA demonstrated significant differences over time in the experimental group on all measures, except for the physical functioning scale which was approaching significance at p=.06, but no significant differences over time in the control group on any of the measures. Conclusion: The Return to Wellness program was effective in improving social functioning and vitality in women with breast cancer who completed the program. It was also effective in reducing uncertainty and distress associated with cancer related fatigue.