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Experience of Fatigue in Adolescents Living With Cancer

Ream, Emma BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, RGN; Gibson, Faith MSc (Cancer Nursing), PhD, Cert Ed, RNT, RGN, RSCN; Edwards, Jacqueline BSc (Hons), MSc, RGN, RSCN; Seption, Beth BEd (Hons), MSc, RGN, RSCN, SCM; Mulhall, Anne BSc, MSc, PhD; Richardson, Alison BN (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGDE, RNT, RGN


This article reports on a small-scale exploratory study conducted with cohorts of adolescents during and after treatment of cancer to explore experiences of fatigue and perceptions of its impact on functioning. A concurrent mixed method design was used to enable detailed understanding of the phenomenon of fatigue in these groups of individuals through convergence of quantitative and qualitative data. Participants completed an investigator-designed Fatigue and Quality of Life Diary for a period of 1 week. Second, they took part in a semistructured interview to explore issues around fatigue and functioning in more detail.

Eight adolescents undergoing treatment participated in the study, along with 6 in early remission (1-2 years off treatment) and 8 receiving follow-up (5 or more years off treatment). Data gained from these sources suggested that fatigue can be a considerable problem for adolescents during and after treatment, and that it may not necessarily abate quickly. Some individuals perceived that their quality of life remained compromised many years after treatment, and it seemed that fatigue might play an important part in this. These preliminary findings suggest that research into management of fatigue in this adolescent group is warranted, along with research and development to determine how best to provide supportive care once treatment finishes.

From the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London (Dr Ream and Professor Richardson); Research Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and Kings College London, Centre for Nursing and Allied Health Professions Research, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London (Dr Gibson); Paediatric Unit, The John Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford (Ms Edwards); School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton (Ms Sepion); and The Coach House, Rectory Road, Ashmanhaugh, Norfolk, England, NR12 8YP (Dr Mulhall).

This study was supported financially by the Lisa Thaxter Trust.

Corresponding author: Emma Ream, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, RGN, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London, 5th Floor Waterloo Bridge Wing, Franklin Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NN (e-mail:

Accepted for publication January 27, 2006.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.