Psychosocial interventions for reducing fatigue during cancer treatment in adults

  • Review
  • Intervention

Authors

  • Martine Margaretha Goedendorp,

    Corresponding author
    1. University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Department of Health Psychology, Groningen, Netherlands
    • Martine Margaretha Goedendorp, Department of Health Psychology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands. m.m.goedendorp@umcg.nl.

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marieke FM Gielissen,

    1. Radboud University Medical Center, Expert Center for Chronic Fatigue, Nijmegen, Netherlands
    2. Radboud University Medical Centre, Department of Medical Psychology, Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Constantijn AHHVM Verhagen,

    1. Radboud University Medical Center, Department of Medical Oncology, Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Gijs Bleijenberg

    1. Radboud University Medical Center, Expert Center for Chronic Fatigue, Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Background

Fatigue is a common symptom in cancer patients receiving active treatment. There are a limited number of reviews evaluating interventions for fatigue during active treatment, and they are restricted to patients with advanced cancer, or to patients during radiotherapy. To date there is no systematic review on psychosocial interventions for fatigue during cancer treatment.

Objectives

To evaluate if psychosocial interventions are effective in reducing fatigue in cancer patients receiving active treatment for cancer, and which types of psychosocial interventions are the most effective.

Search methods

In September 2008 we searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library), PUBMED, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsycINFO, and checked the reference lists.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included which evaluated psychosocial interventions in adult cancer patients during treatment, with fatigue as an outcome measure.

Data collection and analysis

Three review authors independently extracted data from the selected studies, and assessed the methodological quality using several quality rating scales and additional criteria.

Main results

Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria with a total of 3324 participants, and seven studies reported significant effects of the psychosocial intervention on fatigue. In three studies the effect was maintained at follow-up. The quality of the studies was generally moderate. Effect sizes varied between 0.17 to 1.07.

The effectiveness of interventions specific for fatigue was significantly higher (80%) compared to interventions not specific for fatigue (14%). In five studies the interventions were specifically focused on fatigue, with four being effective. The five interventions were brief, consisting of three individual sessions, provided by (oncology) nurses. In general, during these interventions participants were educated about fatigue, were taught in self-care or coping techniques, and learned activity management.

Of the remaining 22 studies only three were effective in reducing fatigue, and these interventions had a more general approach. These interventions were aimed at psychological distress, mood and physical symptoms, and varied strongly in duration and content.

Authors' conclusions

There is limited evidence that psychosocial interventions during cancer treatment are effective in reducing fatigue. At present, psychosocial interventions specifically for fatigue are a promising type of intervention. However, there is no solid evidence for the effectiveness of interventions not specific for fatigue. Most aspects of the included studies were heterogeneous, and therefore it could not be established which other types of interventions, or elements were essential in reducing fatigue.

Plain language summary

The effect of psychosocial interventions on fatigue during cancer treatment in adults

There is limited evidence that psychosocial interventions are effective in reducing fatigue during active treatment in cancer patients. Most promising are psychosocial interventions specifically designed to treat fatigue. In general, during these interventions patients were educated about fatigue, were taught in self-care or coping techniques, and learned to manage their activity. Interventions that did not focus on fatigue were rarely effective in reducing fatigue.

Laički sažetak

Psihosocijalne intervencije za smanjenje umora tijekom liječenja karcinoma u odraslih

Dokazi za učinkovitost psihosocijalnih intervencija za smanjenje umora tijekom aktivnog liječenja oboljelih od karcinoma su ograničeni. Najviše obećavaju psihosocijalne intervencije koje su specifično osmišljene za liječenje umora. Općenito, tijekom ovih intervencija pacijenti se educiraju o umoru, uče se kako se brinuti za sebe i kako se nositi sa situacijom te kako upravljati svojim aktivnostima. Intervencije koje nisu bile fokusirane na umor rijetko su bile učinkovite za ublažavanje umora.

Bilješke prijevoda

Prevoditelj:: Croatian Branch of the Italian Cochrane Centre
Prijevod financira:: Ministry of Education, Science and Sports

Ancillary