Exploring Peer Support Characteristics for Promoting Physical Activity Among Women Living Beyond a Cancer Diagnosis: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

Catherine M. Sabiston

Angela J. Fong

Jenna Smith-Turchyn

Steve Amireault

Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos

Jacqueline L. Bender

Jennifer M. Jones

exercise, social support, qualitative, peers, cancer, women
ONF 2022, 50(1), 101-114. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.101-114

Purpose: To explore women’s perceptions of and preferred peer characteristics for peer mentoring to support physical activity promotion. Understanding how women living beyond a cancer diagnosis perceive peers for physical activity may help guide further health behavior mentoring and support practices.

Participants & Setting: 16 English-speaking adult women living beyond a cancer diagnosis.

Methodologic Approach: Following a qualitative descriptive approach, four in-person focus groups were conducted and discussions were analyzed using inductive content analysis.

Findings: Participants described four considerations for peer matching: (a) personal characteristics, (b) physical activity characteristics, (c) cancer characteristics, and (d) finding a peer. Similarities in age, life phase, location, history of physical activity, type of cancer, severity of cancer, and personality were integral. An online or mobile application and the ability to create multiple partnerships were preferred.

Implications for Nursing: Understanding methods to promote physical activity is imperative for long-term survivorship outcomes. Nurses in oncology care settings may promote physical activity and social support for women living beyond cancer diagnoses by facilitating optimal peer matches.

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