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Effect of Exercise on Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Meta-analysis

Tomlinson, Deborah MN, RN; Diorio, Caroline HBSc; Beyene, Joseph PhD; Sung, Lillian MD, PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: August 2014 - Volume 93 - Issue 8 - p 675–686
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000083
Original Research Articles

ABSTRACT Numerous randomized controlled trials have been conducted to determine efficacy of exercise on cancer-related fatigue. However, many trials lacked sufficient power to demonstrate significant differences, and little is known about how the effect of exercise differs depending on patient- and intervention-level characteristics. A meta-analysis was performed to determine whether exercise reduces fatigue compared with usual care or nonexercise control intervention in patients with cancer. The authors searched Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and CINAHL. Two authors independently extracted the data. Randomized controlled trials comparing exercise with control intervention in cancer patients in which fatigue was quantified were eligible. Seventy-two randomized controlled trials were identified, 71 in adults and 1 in children. Exercise had a moderate effect on reducing fatigue compared with control intervention. Exercise also improved depression and sleep disturbance. Type of exercise did not significantly influence the effect on fatigue, depression, or sleep disturbance. Exercise effect was larger in the studies published 2009 or later. There was only one pediatric study. The results of this study suggest that exercise is effective for the management of cancer-related fatigue.

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From the Child Health Evaluative Sciences (DT, CD, LS) and the Division of Haematology/Oncology (LS), The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (JB), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Lillian Sung, MD, PhD, Division of Haematology/Oncology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1X8.

Deborah Tomlinson and Caroline Diorio contributed equally to this study.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

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