Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Bass

Second Advisor

Kathleen Matuska


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


For American women, breast cancer remains one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers. The average lifetime risk of developing this disease is approximately 12% according to the American Cancer Society (American Cancer Society, 2019). Medical interventions, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to name a few for breast cancer, supports survivorship and longevity; however, many late and lasting effects from breast cancer treatment present themselves in the lives of women. One of the residual effects of breast cancer treatment can be damage to the lymphatic system resulting in lymphedema occurring anywhere from 5% of women following sentinel node biopsy, 13% of women after standard axillary dissection, and 22% of women following surgery and radiotherapy (Rockson & Rivera, 2011).

Peer-reviewed research supported the idea that breast cancer related lymphedema may influence psychosocial status and occupational performance factors. Few occupational therapy professionals address psychosocial status and occupational performance when caring for this population. Recommendations as a result of this project include creating an integrated mindbody approach towards physical management, occupational performance, and psychosocial factors to help women live meaningful lives.

Occupational performance and psychosocial factors are intertwined through the lens of an occupational therapy practitioner. The purpose of this project was to examine current evidence of occupational performance and psychosocial factors related to daily selfmanagement and health education for women living with breast cancer related lymphedema and propose strategies for improving occupational therapy services for these women. The approach for disseminating this evidence and knowledge is through three knowledge translation projects. The three knowledge translation projects included writing an article for a practice magazine, creating a poster presentation for a state conference, and submitting a proposal for a short course at a national conference.