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The Effects of Concrete Objective Information and Relaxation on Maintaining Usual Activity During Radiation Therapy

Norma J. Christman
Linda B. Cain
ONF 2004, 31(2), E39-E45 DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.E39-E45

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the effects of concrete objective information (COI) and relaxation instruction (RI) on patients undergoing radiation therapy, as well as the contribution of symptom uncertainty and body awareness to the intervention effects.

Design: Three-group randomized trial. Assignment was stratified by cancer site. Data collectors were blinded to group assignments.

Setting: University medical center radiation therapy department serving both urban and rural communities in the southeastern United States.

Sample: 76 adults having radiation with curative intent for gynecologic, head and neck, or lung cancer. Most were Caucasian and had in situ to stage II disease. Mean age was 55 years.

Methods: COI and RI were delivered by tape recordings. Outcome measures were indicators of usual activities and emotions at treatment week 3 and two and four weeks post-treatment.

Main Research Variables: Intervention group; social, household, and recreational activities; anxiety, depression, and anger; body awareness; and symptom uncertainty.

Findings: Participants receiving either intervention reported more social activity during treatment. Those given RI who were high in body awareness reported more household activity during treatment. No effects were found regarding emotion. Symptom uncertainty partially explained COI effects.

Conclusions: The findings provide additional support for the effectiveness of COI in helping patients to maintain more of their usual activities during radiation therapy. Instruction in progressive muscle relaxation also may help in maintaining activities.

Implications for Nursing: COI helps patients to cope with treatment by reducing their uncertainty about symptoms. RI effects may vary by activity type and awareness of usual body sensations.

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