The Impact of Fatigue on Role Functioning During Radiation Therapy

Patricia Poirier

fatigue, radiation therapy, radiation tolerance
ONF 2011, 38(4), 457-465. DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.457-465

Purpose/Objectives: To identify the impact of fatigue, site-specific side effects, and individual characteristics on role activities during radiation therapy.

Design: Secondary data analysis.

Setting: A community radiation therapy department in the northeastern region of the United States.

Sample: 77 patients receiving radiation therapy for adjuvant or curative intent.

Methods: Items from the Piper Fatigue Scale and the Brief Fatigue Inventory were grouped into primary (i.e., basic activities of daily living), secondary (i.e., work and school activities), and tertiary (i.e., socialization with family and friends) roles according to the Roy Adaptation Model. Paired t tests and multiple regression were used to analyze performance of roles.

Main Research Variables: Primary, secondary, and tertiary roles.

Findings: Functioning in all three roles declined during treatment, with greater disruption in secondary roles than primary or tertiary roles. Patients maintained their primary and tertiary roles. Patients had greater difficulty maintaining secondary roles such as work and school activities. Treatment to the lung, pelvis, or head and neck; living alone; and an increase in total side-effect scores were associated with increased disruption in role functioning.

Conclusions: Radiation therapy-related fatigue can affect role functioning at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses are in an ideal position to design interventions to help patients maintain activities at greatest risk for disruption. Future research where performance of specific activities is the primary outcome of interest is indicated.

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