Patients' experiences following cranial radiotherapy: a study of the somnolence syndrome



The aim of this shady was to establish whether somnolence syndrome existed in adults by exploring their experiences after receiving cranial radiotherapy Somnolence syndrome is described as excessive sleep, drowsiness, lethargy and anorexia and was found to occur in these patients A description of the phenomenon was drawn from triangulation of the data For 6 weeks following radiotherapy, the participants completed a diary consisting of two elements, a quantitative visual analogue scale and an open diary This was followed by a qualitative semi-structured interview Patients experienced sleepiness which they described as ‘exhausted doing nothing’ and that any activity was a ‘struggle’ Some individuals described sensory changes, deafness and an increase in leg and arm weakness These experiences presented a series of unexpected changes in their health which resulted in fear of treatment failure and disease recurrence The study suggests that more information should be provided for patients on the side-effects that occur after radiotherapy has finished Somnolence syndrome presented for the participants an experience which is not adequately described in previous literature The nurse has an important role in providing information to prepare patients for their experience and more knowledge about this phenomenon is required for these patients to be informed adequately