Fatigue, psychological distress, coping and quality of life in patients with uterine cancer


  • Karin Ahlberg MSc RN,

  • Tor Ekman MD,

  • Arne Wallgren MD,

  • Fannie Gaston-Johansson PhD RN

Karin Ahlberg, Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE 413 45 Gothenburg, Sweden.
E-mail: karin.ahlberg@vgregion.se


Background.  Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a subjectively experienced symptom that is multidimensional and multifactorial. Patients with cancer have identified fatigue as one of the major troubling symptoms and the primary cause of distress in their lives.

Aims.  The major aim of the study was to examine how patients diagnosed with uterine cancer describe their experience of fatigue, psychological distress, coping resources and quality of life. A secondary aim was to describe the relationship between selected variables.

Method.  A descriptive and correlational design was used and the study was conducted at a university hospital in Sweden. The study population consisted of women, diagnosed with uterine cancer, who where scheduled to receive curative external radiation therapy. Sixty women participated in the study and data were collected through self-report instruments. Demographic and clinical data were extracted from patient records. The data were collected during year 2000–2002. The Conceptual Model of Symptom Management was used as a framework to guide the study.

Findings.  Patients experienced a low grade of fatigue and psychological distress, but their functional status and global quality of life was high. Significant correlations were found between general fatigue and anxiety and also between general fatigue and depression. There was a significant negative correlation between general fatigue and coping resources. Depression explained 44% of the variance in general fatigue.

Conclusions.  The findings provide knowledge about predictors of CRF in women with uterine cancer, and can serve as a basis for future longitudinal studies in which different prophylactic strategies against therapy-related fatigue are prospectively studied.