Steps to Enhance Early Recovery After Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Lessons Learned From a Physical Activity Feasibility Study

Hacker, Eileen, Danaher; Peters, Tara; Patel, Pritesh; Rondelli, Damiano

Clinical Nurse Specialist: May/June 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 152162
doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000374


Aims: This pilot study tested and refined a free-living physical activity intervention. The investigators evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and determined preliminary effects on physical activity, fatigue, muscle strength, functional ability, and quality of life.

Design: This pilot study used a 1-group, pretest-posttest design.

Methods: The free-living physical activity intervention consisted of an education component and 6 weeks of gradually increasing physical activity after discharge from the hospital. The intervention was designed to increase steps by 10% weekly. Subjects were assessed before transplantation and during the seventh week after discharge from the hospital after completing the intervention. Pretest-posttest scores were analyzed with paired t tests.

Results: Subject wore the physical activity tracker for an average of 38 of 42 days and met their physical activity goals 57% of the time. Subjects reported significantly less physical fatigue after the free-living physical activity intervention compared with baseline (P = .05). Improvements in quality of life approached significance (P = .06).

Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that the free-living physical activity intervention implemented during the very early recovery period after transplantation is feasible and acceptable. The intervention potentially reduces fatigue and improves quality of life. The positive results must be interpreted cautiously given the pilot nature of the study. The evidence supports continued investigation.