Navigation Links
Study takes a step toward better defining fatigue

PHILADELPHIA - In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has identified three primary themes - loss of strength or energy, major effects of fatigue and associated sensations - among patients being treated with standard radiation therapy.

Presenting today at the 33rd Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Loretta A. Williams, Ph.D., RN, AOCN, OCN, an instructor in the Department of Symptom Research at M. D. Anderson, detailed commonalities of 21 patients who shared personal stories of dealing with cancer's most distressing and common symptom.

"While fatigue is a well-recognized symptom of cancer and its treatment, the measurement of fatigue has been based on many different ideas and definitions. Few of these definitions have included patient input. We're trying to define fatigue based on patient experience," said Williams. "Once we're able to determine the critical elements of fatigue, we'll be better equipped to ask the right questions of patients to assess fatigue. Healthcare professionals - including nurses - will be in a much better position to intervene with patients to manage or prevent fatigue."

The study included open-ended, audio-taped interviews with 21 patients, all who were receiving radiation therapy at M. D. Anderson. The patients were evenly divided with diagnoses of breast, prostate and head and neck cancer. Of the 21 patients who were interviewed during the fifth week of radiation therapy, 57 percent were women and the average patient was 54 years old.

In the study, patients reported a loss of strength or energy that included feelings of tiredness or weakness, which may progress to exhaustion, and lack of energy and stamina.

Because of the qualitative technique that Williams and her team used, their dialogues with patients revealed comments such as, "I don't have a body part that is tired. My whole body is tired," "I just have a weak feeling...pretty well all over," and "Fatigue to me is just a feeling of no energy."

More than 85 percent of the patients in Williams' study used the terms, "tiredness" and "lack of energy" to describe fatigue. According to the researchers, these may be good terms for patients to use when speaking with health care providers about fatigue and terms that should alert the providers to patients experiencing it.

The team also reported that the effects of fatigue included a lack of motivation or inability to perform usual activities, decreased interest in social activities, and an overwhelming need to rest at times.

"Among the patients that we talked to, they often expressed an inability to do things that they could easily do before their treatment or before their diagnosis," said Williams. "They frequently reported that they didn't want to be around others, that it took too much out of them to keep up a conversation or be cordial."

Williams and her team also pinpointed physical sensations associated with fatigue that included, "malaise, aching, feelings of heaviness or weight, slowness of movement, lack of appetite, and mental sensations of psychological distress and difficulty thinking or concentrating."

One patient described the physical sensations as "a feeling of heaviness," while another said, "I just felt myself dragged out, just tired, and it was distressing to me because that's not my norm. I don't like to feel like that."

"Defining the patient's experience with a symptom is critical to assessing and managing that symptom," said Williams who was a clinical nurse specialist before joining M. D. Anderson's Department of Symptom Management as a nurse-scientist. "Assessing and managing symptoms, certainly fatigue, is a primary role of oncology nurses."

Williams and her team are planning similar future studies to better define fatigue among patients receiving chemotherapy and new targeted therapies. They plan to develop a single definition of cancer-related fatigue.


Contact: Julie A. Penne
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Related medicine news :

1. Having Less Power Impairs the Mind and Ability to Get Ahead, Study Shows
2. Study finds parents use cough medicines on under-2s despite the warnings
3. CardioDynamics Announces Significant ICG Study with Nearly Three Times the National Average Blood Pressure Control Rates at the American Society for Hypertension Annual Scientific Meeting
4. Study Supports Popular HIV Drug Regimen
5. Duska Therapeutics Sponsored University of Pennsylvania Study Demonstrates ATP Improves Sperm Motility and In Vitro Fertilization in Animals
6. Study shows that prostate cancer increases the risk of bone fracture
7. Study Suggests Green Tea May Support the Medical Treatment of Stomach and Colon Cancer
8. Forty-Five Percent of U.S. Employees Have Gained Weight at Their Current Jobs, Study Finds
9. New Study: Texas Seniors 4th Hardest-Hit from Proposed Bush Administration Medicare Cuts
10. Study Finds More Than One in Two Women are Too Embarrassed to Discuss Vaginal Discomfort With Their Doctors
11. Depression and anger can plague recent university graduates: Study
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 26, 2015 , ... Patients at Serenity Point Recovery, a ... on Thanksgiving Day to share the things that they are most grateful for ... YouTube channel, patients displayed what they wrote on index cards, describing the things ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... ... The Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute today announced a ... selection in early phase drug development. The first of these is to be ... UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners, and investors, at Milton Park, Oxford, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Pixel ... self-animating trailer titles with ProTrailer: Vintage. This newly styled ProTrailer pack comes with ... work with any font, giving users limitless opportunities to stylize and create designs ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... Water For Empowerment ™ attracts volunteers together who want to combine talents ... women as key stakeholders in the process. The non-profit launched its first major ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... direct sauna parts and accessories. , Sauna accessories help improve the bather experience ... and personality. From basic styles for the purist looking for simplicity in design ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 ) has ... of High Viscosity Drugs" report to their ... the addition of the "Self Administration of ... --> Research and Markets ( ... "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" report ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 ... addition of the "Global Brain Monitoring ... offering. --> ) has ... Brain Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" report ... and Markets ( ) has announced ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... WOODBURY, N.Y. , Nov. 25, 2015  Linden ... access and optimizing treatment outcomes for patients suffering from ... its request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining ... between the two companies. --> ... aggressively pursuing all of its legal options. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: