Chemotherapy-Induced Vomiting in Women Treated for Breast Cancer

Suzanne L. Dibble

Karen Casey

Brenda Nussey

Jill Israel

Judith Luce

ONF 2004, 31(1), E1-E8. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.E1-E8

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the incidence and intensity of vomiting in women receiving chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer since the advent of 5-HT3 antagonists.

Design: Longitudinal, descriptive.

Setting: 7 outpatient oncology clinics situated in hospitals, 5 outpatient oncology clinics associated with major teaching universities, 27 private outpatient oncology practices, and 1 outpatient clinic located in a county hospital.

Sample: Typical participants (N = 303) were 51.9 years, Caucasian (79%), married or partnered (65%), born U.S. citizens (93%), heterosexual (96%), living with someone (84%), and high school graduates (82%).

Methods: Baseline and poststudy questionnaires and a daily diary of vomiting through two cycles of chemotherapy (approximately two months) were used to collect data.

Main Research Variable: Vomiting experience.

Findings: The worst vomiting occurs three days after having chemotherapy for breast cancer. The types of oral antiemetics ordered for home use were changed between the two cycles of the study only 8% (n = 24) of the time. No demographic factors were associated with acute vomiting at times 1 or 2; younger age (r = -0.16; p = 0.012) was associated with more vomiting. Delayed vomiting was associated with age and body mass index, and younger, heavier women experienced more vomiting. Minority women (n = 55) reported significantly more delayed vomiting than did Caucasian women (XM = 6.56 versus 2.82; t = 2.02; p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Vomiting continues to be a significant problem for some women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses can use the results from this study to provide anticipatory guidance for patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and to support efforts to provide appropriate symptom management for these women.

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