Physical resilience of older cancer survivors: An emerging concept.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVES: To characterize factors contributing to physical resilience in older cancer survivors, as demonstrated by resistance to decline or recovery (resilience). MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial of cancer survivors ≥65years old and ≥5years from cancer diagnoses. Physical function was assessed quarterly over 2years, with Short-Form 36 physical function subscale. Participants with ≥2 follow-up assessments (n=594) were evaluated for physical resilience: 1) Resistance was defined as lack of any decline, where decline was a drop of ≥13 points, and 2) resilience (i.e., recovery) was defined as regaining ≥50% of lost function, subsequent to decline. RESULTS: Mean age was 73.1years and 89.1% were Caucasian. Forty-nine percent (n=289) were resistant to decline in function; these individuals were younger, had higher education and income, were more likely to be Caucasian, and had higher baseline physical function (mean difference [MD] 7.8 points, 95% CI 5.0-10.8) and general health (MD 7.5 points, 95% CI 4.9-10.1). Fifty-seven percent (n=137 of 239) demonstrated resilience, with 91.2% (n=125) recovering within 6months of declines; these participants had higher baseline physical function (MD 6.6 points, 95% CI 1.8-11.4), but similar pre-decline function. More participants who were resistant, and more who showed resilience, reported high self-efficacy and social support. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of older cancer survivors exhibited physical resilience; this was associated with high baseline health, physical function, self-efficacy, and social support. Assessing and targeting psychosocial factors may be important for interventions seeking to promote physical resilience.
  • Published In


  • Cancer survivors, Functional decline, Physical resilience, Recovery, Resistance, Activities of Daily Living, Aged, Cancer Survivors, Exercise, Female, Humans, Male, Recovery of Function, Resilience, Psychological, Self Efficacy, Social Support, Socioeconomic Factors, United States
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Duan-Porter W; Cohen HJ; Demark-Wahnefried W; Sloane R; Pendergast JF; Snyder DC; Morey MC
  • Start Page

  • 471
  • End Page

  • 478
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 6