Patients' Perceptions of Fatigue in Response to Biochemotherapy for Metastatic Melanoma: A Preliminary Study

Mei Rosemary Fu

Clay M. Anderson

Roxanne W. McDaniel

Jane Armer

ONF 2002, 29(6), 961-966. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.961-966

Purpose/Objectives: To explore patients' perceptions of fatigue in response to biochemotherapy treatment for metastatic melanoma.

Design: A descriptive-correlational, cross-sectional study.

Setting: A cancer center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 12 adult patients between the ages of 28-70 who received at least one cycle of biochemotherapy treatment for metastatic melanoma (stages III and IV) from the inpa-tient or outpatient services of a midwestern cancer center.

Methods: A demographic data sheet and the Revised Piper Fatigue Scale (PFS) were used to collect data at a single point in time after patients received at least one cycle of biochemotherapy.

Findings: The majority of patients who received biochemotherapy reported severe or moderate fatigue. Female patients' total fatigue scores were higher than those of male patients. Fatigue duration varied from hours to months, with a maximum duration of 12 months after biochemotherapy treatment. All of the patients reported that the most direct causes of their fatigue were metastatic melanoma and biochemotherapy treatment.

Conclusions: Patients who received biochemotherapy treatment for metastatic melanoma reported moderate to severe fatigue. Female patients experienced more intense fatigue than male patients. The findings also supported the multidimensionality of fatigue construct identified in prior fatigue studies. The four dimensions/subscales of fatigue assessed by the Revised PFS were highly correlated to total fatigue scores.

Implications for Nursing: Biochemotherapy is a newer treatment modality for metastatic melanoma. Fatigue, one of the severe toxicities from biochemotherapy treatment, necessitates attention from nurses. The findings will assist nurses in teaching patients about fatigue that may be expected during or after biochemotherapy and about self-care strategies to manage fatigue.

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