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Fatigue, Pain, and Functional Status During Outpatient Chemotherapy

Mary Lou Siefert
ONF 2010, 37(2), E114-E123 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.114-123

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the relationship of fatigue and pain with functional status and the pattern of the two symptoms' occurrence over time in individuals with cancer who were receiving outpatient chemotherapy. The aims were to describe the levels of fatigue and pain with functional status and the inter-relationships with each other and with demographic and clinical variables over time.

Design: Descriptive, correlational.

Setting: Outpatient chemotherapy clinic in the New England region of the United States.

Sample: Total available population of 70 consecutive adult patients with breast cancer (n = 9), colorectal cancer (n = 21), lung cancer (n = 21), or lymphoma (n = 19).

Methods: Retrospective data were extracted from the medical records; descriptive, correlational, and mixed-modeling methods were used to describe the sample and to examine the relationships of the symptoms and functional status.

Main Research Variables: Fatigue, pain, functional status, and demographic and clinical factors.

Findings: Fatigue was the most frequently reported symptom; pain was rarely and almost exclusively reported by patients with lung cancer or lymphoma during their early treatments. Fatigue and functional status impairment were highly associated with each other and had similar relationships with the other variables.

Conclusions: The patterns and relationships of fatigue and functional status reported by this fairly healthy sample provide useful information to help guide early assessments and nursing interventions for people receiving outpatient chemotherapy.

Implications for Nursing: The patterns and severity of symptoms and functional status impairment in people with colorectal cancer or lymphoma warrant further investigation. Targeted exercise interventions for specific outpatient populations should be developed and tested to address specific patterns of symptoms and functional status impairment in individuals with cancer.

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