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Research Library

Finding a New Normal: Using Recreation Therapy to Improve the Well‑Being of Women with Breast Cancer

    • Published: 2010 IND
    • Diane G. Groff, Ph.D., LRT/CTRS; Claudio Battaglini, Ph.D.; Cari Sipe, LRT/CTRS; Jeffery Peppercorn, M.D., MPH; Michael Anderson, B.S., and Anthony C. Hackney, Ph.D.
    • Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, 18, 40-52, 2010.
    • Download the complete paper, click here.


Women with breast cancer face numerous physical and psychosocial challenges during and post cancer treatment that may decrease functioning and reduce overall well-being. Interventions that afford opportunities to transcend negative life experiences are needed but frequently not provided due to lack of post-treatment services provided by healthcare systems. HeartMath® and other forms of biofeedback offer efficacious interventions that recreation therapists can easily be trained to provide. These tools provide a promising way to increase coping skills, decrease stress, and improve immune functioning by increasing heart rate coherence (HRC). This article will review the literature and illustrate the outcomes of a case series conducted with female breast cancer survivors. A paired samples t-test revealed a significant increase in high HRC from baseline to posttest. This significant increase was established after the first HeartMath® session and sustained over the 6-week intervention. Discussion and implications of these findings are presented.