A Good Time to Dance? A Mixed-Methods Approach of the Effects of Dance Movement Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients During and After Radiotherapy

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Background:Dance movement therapy (DMT) is premised on an interconnected body and mind. It has known benefits for cancer patients’ physical and psychological health and quality of life.Objective:To offer greater insight into a previous randomized controlled trial, the present study qualitatively explored the beneficial elements of DMT over the course of radiotherapy. To better understand the uniqueness of DMT intervention for patients receiving radiotherapy, the study statistically compared them with patients who received DMT after treatment completion.Methods:Participants were randomized into radiotherapy and postradiotherapy control groups. The radiotherapy group received DMT (6 sessions at 90 minutes each) as they were undergoing radiotherapy. The postradiotherapy group was provided with the same DMT intervention at 1 to 2 months after completing radiotherapy.Results:One hundred and four participants identified 5 main benefit categories. Dance movement therapy helped them (1) cope with cancer, treatment, and physical symptoms; (2) improve mental well-being, attention, and appreciation for the self and body; (3) improve total functioning; (4) bridge back to a normal and better life; and (5) participate in shared positive experiences. The radiotherapy group reported categories 1 and 2 more prominently than did the postradiotherapy group.Conclusions:The findings reinforced the benefits of DMT while adding the new perspective that delivering DMT intervention throughout cancer treatment can have different and even additional benefits for patients.Implications for Practice:The pleasure of dancing and the psychological and physical relief from DMT help patients cope with daily radiation treatments. This could decrease treatment dropout rates when administered in clinical settings.

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