Poster Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

The lived experience of breast cancer survivors participating in challenge-based peer support programs: The transformative effect of riding motorcycles (#476)

Bronwyn A Morris 1 2 , Meredith Campbell 3 , Megan Dwyer 3 , Jeffrey Dunn 1 2 4 , Suzanne K Chambers 1 2
  1. Griffith Health Institute, Gold Coast, Qld, Australia
  2. Cancer Council Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  3. Amazon Heart, Brisbane, Australia
  4. School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Peer support programs can provide a unique perspective and understanding from other cancer survivors. The last decade has seen the emergence of peer groups based on exercise or physical challenges, and the benefits of such programs are yet to be fully examined. A mixed-method approach investigated participant experiences during Amazon Heart Thunder (AHT); a peer support program for breast cancer survivors based on riding motorcycles. Surveys were collected from all participants (N = 51) and interviews conducted with riders new to AHT (N = 37) prior and after two ten-day programs (in Australia and US). Ratings (0-10) on six statements (e.g., “How stressed are you feeling now?”) and three words describing each participant’s day were also collected daily, providing a concise description of the experience as the ride progressed. Repeated measures analyses for the Australian ride showed stress ratings decreased (p < 0.05) and their feeling of connectedness with the group increased (p < 0.01). Results for the US ride showed an increase in confidence (p < 0.01). Content analysis of daily descriptor words revealed a distinct pattern, with words such as “loneliness” and “overwhelming” being commonly reported for the first five days, and superseded by words such as “alive”, “strength”, “achievement”, “pride”, and “empowered” in the last days of the event. Words such as “challenging”, “free-spirited”, “emotional”, “soul searching”, and “me time” were evident through the entire ride. The daily tallies contributed to survey and interview data to provide a rich understanding of the lived experience of breast cancer survivors during the AHT program. Challenge-based activities, such as AHT, provide women with a safe environment to explore self-identity and experience positive modelled behaviour. A model of service delivery can be created by identifying factors that promote posttraumatic growth and adjustment to being a breast cancer survivor.