Factors Related to Persistent Fatigue Following Completion of Breast Cancer Treatment

Céline Gélinas

Lise Fillion

ONF 2004, 31(2), 269-278. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.269-278

Purpose/Objectives: To verify the predictive capacity of the stress-process theory to explain persistent fatigue following completion of breast cancer treatments; to verify the relationship between interleukin-1b and fatigue.

Design: Correlational.

Setting: Tertiary medical center in Quebec City, Canada.

Sample: A systematic sample of 103 women in remission from breast cancer was recruited. The mean age was 54 years. Participants with a depressive mood, insomnia, or stage IV cancer were excluded.

Methods: Participants were met during their follow-up appointment after the end of radiation therapy. Questionnaires on fatigue, stress variables, and other confounding variables were completed by telephone interview. Blood samples also were collected to measure the serum level of interleukin-1b.

Main Research Variables: Fatigue, several variables from the stress-process theory, pain, menopausal symptoms, and demographic and medical variables.

Findings: Fatigue was related theoretically and coherently to many stress-process variables. By controlling for pain, the final regression model included cancer stressors and passive and active coping as predictors, which accounted for 41% of the variance in fatigue. No relationship was found between fatigue and interleukin-1b.

Conclusions: The results supported the relevance of the stress-process theory for explaining cancer-related fatigue.

Implications for Nursing: Nursing interventions based on this theoretical framework could be developed. In addition, further clinical research that tests the efficacy of these psycho-educative interventions in preventing persistent fatigue and improving the quality of life of women with breast cancer is recommended.

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