Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan

Keywords

Chemotherapy, Fatigue, HADS, MFSI, Nursing, Oncology

Abstract

Abstract

Fatigue is one of the most bothersome symptoms reported by patients diagnosed with cancer, and research indicates that the majority of patients receiving chemotherapy report symptoms of fatigue. Fatigue can have an effect on quality of life; therefore, it is essential that healthcare providers gain a better understanding and recognition of fatigue.

Fatigue can also be a symptom of depression. Depression is another prominent symptom reported by patients diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, there are similarities between the symptoms of depression and fatigue making it difficult for health care providers to distinguish between the two. This study utilizes the subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Multidimensional Fatigue Scale-Short Form to further investigate the relationship between cancer-related fatigue and depression.

The convenience sample consisted of 30 chemotherapy patients being treated at an outpatient infusion center in a comprehensive cancer center in southwest Florida. All participants were between the ages of 26 and 74, and had been receiving chemotherapy for a minimum of three weeks; none had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, or were currently being treated with radiation.

The participants in the study self-rated their fatigue on a Likert-type scale of 0-10. The mean score on the self-rated fatigue scale was 4.03 (SD= 2.76). This study supports prior studies in which chemotherapy patients report mild to severe levels of fatigue.

The mean score on the depression subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression subscale was 4.53 (SD=4.2). A statistically significant correlation was noted between cancer-related fatigue and depression, utilizing the Hospital Anxiety and Depression subscale score and Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory-Short Form total scores (r=.676, p=.000).

This study provides evidence that tools such as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory-Short Form can aid researchers and providers in distinguishing between fatigue and depression. Using these instruments in future research and practice may help avoid the overlap in symptoms of fatigue and depression.

These study results support findings from previous studies indicating a moderate correlation between cancer-related fatigue and depression. This study addresses the correlation between cancer-related fatigue and depression in chemotherapy patients which may improve nursing assessment of fatigue and depression in this population. Findings suggest the need for ongoing research focusing on cancer-related fatigue and depression as well as appropriate pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to improve the quality of life of this patient population.

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