nursing schoolRegular exercise is a low-cost, low-tech way to boost well-being among healthy women and men. It also can be of benefit to adults of all ages being treated for prostate, breast, or other cancers, according to assistant professor Jennifer Wenzel, PhD, RN, and colleagues.

They report that a 30-minute, brisk walk, five days each week can help reduce the debilitating fatigue and emotional distress that may accompany treatments like chemotherapy and radiation in patients from 20 to 80 years of age. The key, however, is for patients to sustain the activity.

According to Wenzel, what makes this study so notable is that it featured patients with many types of cancers undergoing a wide variety of treatments. “It adds to what we know and how we can help improve the quality of life for all cancer patients during treatment.” [“Impact of a home-based walking intervention on outcomes of sleep quality, emotional distress and fatigue in patients undergoing treatment for solid tumors,” The Oncologist, April 2013.]

Coping, Cancer, and Quality of Life. While highly effective, breast cancer treatments can have a debilitating downside. Chemotherapy can cause pain, depression, fatigue, and nausea, heightening stress and impairing a woman’s quality of life. By managing these treatment effects, a woman can help strengthen her immediate and long-term health and well-being. Professor Fannie Gaston-Johansson, PhD, RN; instructor Nancy Goldstein, RN, DNP; doctoral student Tokunbor A. Lawal, RN, MS; and colleagues have explored the long-term impact of a structured program to improve women’s coping skills. Compared with a control group, women who used the coping strategies’ techniques, tapes, and handouts continued to experience greater physical and psychological health a full year after treatment ended. A second study found that adding religious coping as a strategy was of particular benefit to African-American breast-cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Gaston-Johansson says, “This body of work is really all about improving the quality of a woman’s life while she deals with survival and the side effects of cancer treatment. Because nurses are on the front lines of day-to-day care, we are ideally poised to educate women in cancer treatment about effective self-management tools.” [“Long-term effect of the self-management comprehensive coping strategy program on quality of life in patients with breast cancer treated with high-dose chemotherapy,” Psycho-Oncology, March 2013; “The relationships among coping strategies, religious coping, and spirituality in African-American women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy." Oncology Nursing Forum, March 2013.]

For Better Caregiving: Ease the Stress. When a family member has a serious health problem—like a child with severe asthma—it takes a toll on a caregiver, too. The increased burden may damage the caregiver’s quality of life, in turn affecting the ability to manage ongoing care and support. In an article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care (March/April 2013), associate professor Joan Kub, PhD, APHN; Schools of Nursing and Medicine professor Arlene M. Butz, ScD, RN; and colleagues examine factors that may affect the quality of life in families of children with poorly controlled asthma. They found a host of stressors, including the burden of caring for an asthmatic child and the tensions associated with an inner-city environment, from crime to unsafe housing to unemployment. Kub notes, “The goal is to improve caregiver well-being so they can better care for their children with severe asthma. As a result, the lives of both are enhanced.” Butz adds, “We can achieve that aim through a home-based approach that works through counseling, services, education, and support to reduce as many as possible of the risk factors for caregiver stress.” They emphasize that targeting even one area of stress can help improve the quality of life for an inner-city mother caring for her child with severe asthma. [“Stress and Quality of Life in Caregivers of Inner-City Minority Children with Poorly Controlled Asthma.”]

In Other Nursing Research News. Postdoctoral fellow Marguerite B. Lucea, PhD, RN; Kub, PhD, APHN; former faculty member Linda Rose, PhD, RN; and others explore HIV prevention efforts abroad in “The context of condom use among young adults in the Philippines: Implications for HIV prevention." [Health Care for Women International, March 2013.], assistant professor Casey R. Shillam, PhD, RN-BC, describes how older adults’ medication management can be improved when faith-community nurses join pharmacists in leading “brown bag medication reviews” for seniors. [“Faith community nurses and brown bag events help older adults manage meds.” Journal of Christian Nursing (April/June 2013.) Elsewhere, Shillam and other colleagues describe efforts to advance geriatric nursing capacity to meet a rapidly aging U.S. population. [“Advancing the future of nursing: A report by the Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Alumni Policy and Leadership Committee.” Nursing Outlook (January 2013).]