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Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: The Impact of a Mind-Body Medicine Intervention

Susan E. Appling
Susan Scarvalone
Ryan MacDonald
Maureen McBeth
Kathy J. Helzlsouer
ONF 2012, 39(3), 278-286 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.278-286

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate a mind-body medicine (MBM) program for its impact on persistent fatigue following breast cancer treatment.

Design: Quasiexperimental.

Setting: An urban community hospital and a health department in a semirural county, both in Maryland.

Sample: 68 breast cancer survivors who were at least six months postadjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and had a baseline fatigue score of 50 or lower per the vitality subscale of the SF-36® Health Survey.

Methods: A 10-week group-based MBM program for breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue was evaluated using a pretest/post-test study design.

Main Research Variables: Sustained change in fatigue severity as measured by the Piper Fatigue Scale (PFS), SF-36 vitality subscale, and 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS).

Findings: Participants were 2.6 years post-treatment, with a mean age of 56.8 years. Overall, fatigue scores improved by 40%. The mean PFS improved from a score of 6 (SD = 1.6) at baseline to 4.2 (SD = 2) at the end of the program (p < 0.001), with additional improvement at two months and sustained at six months (X = 3.6, SD = 2, p < 0.001). Results from the SF-36 and VAS also showed significant improvement in fatigue (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The findings support the use of a holistic MBM intervention to reduce persistent fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Results should be confirmed with a randomized clinical trial.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses and other healthcare team members can effectively impact persistent fatigue in breast cancer survivors through the use of a multipronged MBM program.

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