Predictors of Self-Reported Memory Problems in Patients With Ovarian Cancer Who Have Received Chemotherapy

Jamie S. Myers

Valmi D. Sousa

Heidi S. Donovan

ovarian neoplasms, cognitive impairment
ONF 2010, 37(5), 596-603. DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.596-603

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the association between self-report of memory problems and the most commonly reported concurrent symptoms by women with ovarian cancer who have received chemotherapy.

Design: Secondary analysis.

Setting: Midwestern university-based school of nursing.

Sample: 638 women with ovarian cancer participating in a larger study who had received chemotherapy and 68 women with ovarian cancer who had not received chemotherapy.

Methods: Responses to a demographic questionnaire, disease and treatment history survey, and symptom severity index were analyzed using Pearson's correlations, hierarchical regression analysis, and Welch t tests for unequal sample size.

Main Research Variables: Self-rating of memory problems, time since chemotherapy, education level, and self-rating of commonly reported symptoms associated with ovarian cancer.

Findings: Nine symptoms accounted for 37% of the variance of memory problems (controlling for time since chemotherapy and education level). Significant predictors of memory problems included fatigue, mood swings, numbness or tingling, and sleep disturbance. Mean scores for self-reported memory problems were significantly different for participants who received chemotherapy compared to those who had not.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that memory problems were common following chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Additional prospective study is warranted to evaluate potential mechanisms underlying these symptom interactions. Further qualitative study may be of value to describe the patient experience and identify effective coping strategies.

Implications for Nursing: Patient and family education should include information about the potential for memory problems following chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

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