Purpose/Objectives: To describe self-care strategies used by patients with lung cancer to promote quality of life (QOL).
Research Approach: Qualitative study using a phenomenologic approach.
Setting: Cancer clinics in central Texas.
Participants: Purposive sampling was used to enroll 10 adults with lung cancer who had completed primary treatment within the prior two years.
Methodologic Approach: One-on-one, semistructured, audiotaped interviews were conducted.
Main Research Variables: QOL and self-care strategies.
Findings: Participants identified family and social support, functional independence, physical well-being, and spirituality as important aspects of QOL. Participants identified fatigue as the factor most negatively affecting QOL. Self-care strategies identified to improve QOL were primarily related to fatigue management. Rest was the primary self-care strategy reportedly recommended by healthcare providers, but this strategy was ineffective. Helpful self-care strategies included budgeting time and energy, maintaining contact with family and friends for support, and prayer.
Conclusions: This study documents the negative effect of fatigue on QOL in patients with lung cancer. Use of rest to manage fatigue's pervasive negative effect on QOL is a common self-care strategy, reportedly recommended by healthcare providers, but is ineffective by itself to manage fatigue and improve QOL.
Interpretation: Healthcare providers should assess self-care strategies used by patients with lung cancer to promote improved QOL. Because fatigue has a documented negative effect on QOL in patients with lung cancer, providers should encourage the use of multidimensional strategies that have been supported by research evidence to manage fatigue and improve QOL.