Experiences of Physical Activity and Exercise in Cancer Patients and Survivors using Te Whare Tapa Whā

Martine Matapo-Kolisko
27 September 2021

Matapo-Kolisko, M. (2021). Experiences of physical activity and exercise in cancer patients and survivors using Te Whare Tapa Whā. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Applied Science at Otago Polytechnic.) [PDF 2.1 MB]



AIMS: This project aimed to explore the experiences and perspectives of cancer patients and survivors engaging in a cancer exercise programme. The cancer exercise programme was an initiative undertaken by academic staff and post graduate students to increase exercise amongst a cancer community.

METHODS: Data were collected through a literature review, one-on-one interviews and observations. Interviews consisted of semi-structured questions related to experiences of cancer, physical activity (PA), a cancer exercise programme, and the subsequent impact on wellbeing. Observational data were gathered through field notes and informal conversations with the participants. The cornerstones of health described by Te Whare Tapa Whā provided a lens to analyse and interpret the data.

FINDINGS: Four participants from the cancer exercise programme, and a clinician from Otago, New Zealand (mean age 56.8 years) participated in the study. Participants reported that engagement in the cancer exercise programme resulted in peer support and psychological benefits, “…It’s been marvellous. Not only physically, but mentally as well, getting to see people and getting out and socialising…”, [the cancer exercise programme was] “…fun because of everybody else there and being able to see everybody and ask how they’re doing…”. The data demonstrated connections between PA and health across all aspects of wellbeing, described by Te Whare Tapa Whā. The findings demonstrated that Te Whare Tapa Whā principles can be useful when analysing experiences of a cancer exercise programme.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlighted that cancer patients and survivors’ experiences of PA were more than physical and were exemplified in all aspects of Te Whare Tapa Whā. Their lived experiences describe how PA and exercise provides opportunities for participants to gain peer and psychological support, a finding that is consistent with the literature.

Keywords: physical activity, exercise, Te Whare Tapa Whā, cancer, well-being  

Martine's supervisors were Richard Humphrey and Phil Handcock.



This thesis is publicly available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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