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Physical Therapy


Background: Cancer rehabilitation research has accelerated over the last decade. However, closer examination of the published literature reveals that the majority of this work has focused on psychological interventions and cognitive and behavioral therapies. Recent initiatives have aggregated expert consensus around research priorities, highlighting a dearth in research regarding measurement of and interventions for physical function. Increasingly loud calls for the need to address the myriad of physical functional impairments that develop in people living with and beyond cancer have been published in the literature. A detailed survey of the landscape of published research has not been reported to our knowledge.

Purpose: This scoping review systematically identified literature published between 2008 and 2018 related to the screening, assessment, and interventions associated with physical function in people living with and beyond cancer.

Data Sources: PubMed and CINAHL were searched up to September 2018.

Study Selection: Study selection included articles of all levels of evidence on any disease stage and population. A total of 11,483 articles were screened for eligibility, 2507 full-text articles were reviewed, and 1055 articles were selected for final inclusion and extraction.

Data Extraction: Seven reviewers recorded type of cancer, disease stage, age of participants, phase of treatment, time since diagnosis, application to physical function, study design, impairments related to physical function, and measurement instruments used.

Data Synthesis: Approximately one-third of the articles included patients with various cancer diagnoses (30.3%), whereas the rest focused on a single cancer, most commonly breast (24.8%). Most articles (77%) measured physical function following the completion of active cancer treatment with 64% representing the assessment domain. The most commonly used measures of physical function were the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Health Survey Questionnaire (29%) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Cancer 30 (21.5%).

Limitations: Studies not written in English, study protocols, conference abstracts, and unpublished data were excluded.

Conclusions: This review elucidated significant inconsistencies in the literature regarding language used to define physical function, measurement tools used to characterize function, and the use of those tools across the cancer treatment and survivorship trajectory. The findings suggested that physical function in cancer research is predominantly measured using general health-related quality-of-life tools rather than more precise functional assessment tools. Interdisciplinary and clinician-researcher collaborative efforts should be directed toward a unified definition and assessment of physical function.

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Oxford University Press





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