Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Apar Ganti

Second Advisor

Paul Estabrooks

Third Advisor

Katherine Jones


The prevalence of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) among older adults with hematological malignancies has doubled over the last decade and continues to grow. HCT is an intense process that can impact functional status and health-related quality of life. The objective of this thesis is to describe the experience of returning to life activities after HCT in patients 60 years of age and older and the resources required to adapt and cope to limitations in physical, psychological, and cognitive function. Twenty English speaking adults 60 years and older with hematological malignancy three to twelve months post-HCT completed semi-structured interviews. Open-ended questions and probes were guided by the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping (TMSC) to explore adaptive functioning, coping resources, and coping strategies. An integrated grounded theory approach was used to code the textual data to identify themes. The study took place at a tertiary comprehensive cancer center in the Midwest United States. Eight allogeneic and twelve autologous HCT recipients participated in the interviews. Nineteen participants were within six to twelve months and one participant was at three months post-HCT. Our findings identify the significant role of engaging in life activities and social support in the recovery of physical, psychological, and cognitive function after HCT. Older HCT recipients are an understudied population. They are at high risk for functional decline. Our findings may provide important information on how transplant programs can adapt interventions to facilitate recovery of physical, psychological, and cognitive function.


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