The Effects of Exercise on Quality of Life and Function in Patients with Leukemia Currently Undergoing Treatment: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Abstract

Background:

Patients undergoing treatment for leukemia often have decreased quality of life and function due to a combination of treatment side effects and the course of the disease.

Purpose:

The purpose of this systematic review was to identify whether exercise can impact quality of life and function in patients with leukemia currently undergoing treatment.

Methods:

Twelve studies were identified, results reviewed, and assessed for quality of research. The databases that were searched were PubMed, CINAHL, Google scholar, and Medline. Five search terms were used, which included (1) “effects of exercise during leukemia treatment on QOL,” (2) “effects of exercise during leukemia treatment on function,” (3) “effects of exercise on leukemia patients AND QOL AND function,” (4) “exercise, leukemia, quality of life,” (5) “exercise, leukemia, function.” Inclusion criteria included full text available, patients currently undergoing treatment, studies that looked at leukemia only, articles from 2003–2013, and studies where patients participated in exercise treatment. Exclusion criteria included duplicate articles, studies that looked at survivors, and those that were not applicable to research area.

Results:

Study designs ranged from single group pre- and posttests with no control group or randomization to randomized control trials. Patients varied in age from pediatrics to geriatrics and received various types of treatments for leukemia. Interventions varied across studies, and included aerobics, resistance, flexibility training, or a combination. Specific outcome measures varied, but all measured quality of life and/or function. The results showed statistically significant improvements or trends towards improvement with no adverse effects from the exercise programs.

Conclusions:

This systematic review provides evidence that exercise is beneficial in improving function and quality of life for patients undergoing treatment for leukemia.

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