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Effects of Exercise on Fatigue, Sleep, and Performance: A Randomized Trial

Elizabeth Ann Coleman
Julia A. Goodwin
Robert Kennedy
Sharon K. Coon
Kathy Richards
Carol Enderlin
Carol B. Stewart
Paula McNatt
Kim Lockhart
Elias J. Anaissie
ONF 2012, 39(5), 468-477 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.468-477

Purpose/Objectives: To compare usual care with a home-based individualized exercise program (HBIEP) in patients receiving intensive treatment for multiple myeloma (MM)and epoetin alfa therapy.

Design: Randomized trial with repeated measures of two groups (one experimental and one control) and an approximate 15-week experimental period.

Setting: Outpatient setting of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at the Rockfellow Cancer Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Sample: 187 patients with newly diagnosed MM enrolled in a separate study evaluating effectiveness of the Total Therapy regimen, with or without thalidomide.

Methods: Measurements included the Profile of Mood States fatigue scale, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue, ActiGraph® recordings, 6-Minute Walk Test, and hemoglobin levels at baseline and before and after stem cell collection. Descriptive statistics were used to compare demographics and treatment effects, and repeated measures analysis of variance was used to determine effects of HBIEP.

Main Research Variables: Fatigue, nighttime sleep, performance (aerobic capacity) as dependent or outcome measures, and HBIEP combining strength building and aerobic exercise as the independent variable.

Findings: Both groups were equivalent for age, gender, race, receipt of thalidomide, hemoglobin levels, and type of treatment regimen for MM. No statistically significant differences existed among the experimental and control groups for fatigue, sleep, or performance (aerobic capacity). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were found in each of the study outcomes for all patients as treatment progressed and patients experienced more fatigue and poorer nighttime sleep and performance (aerobic capacity).

Conclusions: The effect of exercise seemed to be minimal on decreasing fatigue, improving sleep, and improving performance (aerobic capacity).

Implications for Nursing: Exercise is safe and has physiologic benefits for patients undergoing MM treatment; exercise combined with epoetin alfa helped alleviate anemia.

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