We know that being physically active improves people's quality of life, but we don't know if followinga structured programme can help bowel cancer patients with their concerns related to living with a stoma.

This study will take place in London and the Scottish Highlands. About six weeks after stoma-creating surgery, patients will receive weekly physical activity consultations face-to-face with a physical activity specialist at a leisure centre/at home or by video-conferencing (e.g. skype), for a total of 12 weeks.

The researchers will find out:
• How many patients participate and what physical activities they do each week.
• Patients’, stoma nurses’, and physical activity specialists’ opinions about the physical activity programme.
• If there are improvements in quality of life, function, fatigue and body image.

Researchers

The project is being led by Dr Gill Hubbard from the University of the Highlands and Islands with Dr Claire Taylor, Professor Angus Watson and Dr Becca Beeken.

Why develop physical activity for bowel cancer patients with stomas?

It is estimated that around 13,000 people undergo stoma surgery each year in the UK. One reason for a stoma is as part of the surgical treatment for bowel cancer. Each year 77% of patients (around 3,000) undergoing anterior resection for rectal cancer will have a defunctioning or end stoma formed and 27% will still have a stoma at 18 months follow-up.

People with a stoma report fatigue, feeling unattractive, low energy, fear of appliance leakage and fear of a hernia, all of which greatly impact their quality of life. Reversal and closure surgery is not advisable for some patients nor is it necessarily a solution for poor quality of life. It is therefore crucial that interventions to address poor quality of life in relation to people who live with a stoma are established.

There is strong evidence that physical activity improves the quality of life in patients with cancer. Bowel cancer patients with a stoma are less likely to participate in physical activity programmes than those without a stoma and having a stoma has a negative impact on participation in sports and leisure activities.

A key gap in evidence is the effectiveness of a physical activity programme that has been specifically designed to address stoma related barriers to physical activity.

No other study has evaluated the benefits of a physical activity intervention specifically for patients with a stoma. This study will address this key gap in evidence.

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