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Fatigue and Physical Activity in Older Patients With Cancer: A Six-Month Follow-Up Study

Marian Luctkar-Flude
Dianne Groll
Kirsten Woodend
Joan Tranmer
ONF 2009, 36(2), 194-202 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.194-202

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the relationship between fatigue and physical activity in older patients with cancer.

Design: Targeted analysis using data from a prospective longitudinal study.

Setting: A cancer care facility in southeastern Ontario, Canada.

Sample: 440 patients, aged 65 years and older, seeking consultation for cancer treatment at a regional cancer clinic for lymphoma or leukemia or lung, breast, genitourinary, head or neck, gastrointestinal, or skin cancers.

Methods: Self-report questionnaires were mailed to consenting participants and completed at baseline and three and six months after consultation for cancer treatment.

Main Research Variables: Participants rated fatigue and physical activity and reported comorbidities and personal demographic characteristics. Clinical measures of disease and treatment factors were obtained through chart abstraction.

Findings: Fatigue was the most prevalent symptom reported. Higher fatigue was associated with lower physical activity levels. Physical activity level significantly predicted fatigue level, regardless of age.

Conclusions: Physical activity level is a modifiable factor significantly predicting cancer-related fatigue at three and six months following consultation for cancer treatment. The results suggest that physical activity may reduce fatigue in older patients with cancer.

Implications for Nursing: Physical activity interventions should be developed and tested in older patients with cancer.

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