Original Research

Preoperative physical activity and functional performance levels are predictors of acute postoperative outcomes in a private South African colorectal cancer cohort

Megan Whelan, Heleen van Aswegen, Ronel Roos, June Fabian, Brendan Bebington
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 77, No 1 | a1526 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v77i1.1526 | © 2021 Megan Whelan, Heleen van Aswegen, Ronel Roos, June Fabian, Brendan Bebington | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2020 | Published: 08 March 2021

About the author(s)

Megan Whelan, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Heleen van Aswegen, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ronel Roos, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
June Fabian, Clinical Research Department, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Brendan Bebington, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Colorectal Unit, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: For patients with colorectal cancer, surgical resection of the primary tumour remains the best treatment option. Surgery for colorectal cancer is being performed on patients who would previously not have been considered as suitable candidates. It remains to be seen which factors influence hospital length of stay (LOS) and the development of acute postoperative complications in South African patients.

Objectives: The objectives of our study were to determine the modifiable factors that influence patients’ development of postoperative complications and hospital LOS and, to identify the types of postoperative complications that develop.

Method: A retrospective review and secondary analysis of information in an existing database of patients with colorectal cancer were conducted. Regression analysis statistics were used to determine the predictors of postoperative outcomes. The level of significance at which testing was performed was set at 5% (p ≤ 0.05).

Results: Data of 125 patients were included. Surgical site infections and postoperative paralytic ileus were the most frequently reported postoperative complications. Preoperative vigorous-intensity physical activity (p = 0.048, β = -0.000) and functional performance status (p = 0.05, β = 0.926) significantly predicted hospital LOS and the incidence of postoperative complications, respectively.

Conclusion: Preoperative physical activity and functional performance levels are predictors of acute postoperative outcomes in a private South African cohort of patients with colorectal cancer. Future research which includes other modifiable factors is required to make informed suggestions for changes in clinical practice.

Clinical implications: Patients requiring surgery for colorectal cancer should be screened for signs of physical deconditioning and referred for physiotherapy intervention before elective surgery to optimise their recovery.


Keywords

physical activity; functional performance; colorectal cancer; predictors; postoperative outcomes

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