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Psychosocial Characteristics of Cancer Patients Who Choose to Attend an Educational Session on Cancer-Related Fatigue

Alexeeva, Iana MSc; Thomas, Bejoy Cherian PhD; Pelletier, Guy PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000305768.19604.ce

Little is known about cancer patients who seek specific educational interventions on cancer-related fatigue (CRF). The objectives of this study were (1) to describe the level of CRF, and emotional distress; social support; coping styles; and quality of life of patients who chose to attend a 1-hour educational session on CRF and (2) to examine the relationship between the selected demographic, psychosocial, and treatment-related variables and CRF. A questionnaire-based survey of 41 cancer patients who volunteered after a 1-hour education session on CRF at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre was conducted. The sample consisted mostly of married white women who lived in an urban environment. The average age was 56 years, and participants had an average of 14 years of education; 78% of the sample reported moderate to severe fatigue, 27% had significant levels of emotional distress, and 63% had a problematic coping style. Higher fatigue was associated with emotional distress, poorer quality of life, hopelessness, and reduced social support. To conclude, patients who self-refer to an educational session on CRF present a wide range of emotional difficulties and problematic coping styles. Therefore, educational sessions with patients with CRF should emphasize coping with emotional distress and building a support system.

Authors' Affiliations: Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (Ms Alexeeva); Department of Psychosocial Resources, Alberta Cancer Board, Tom Baker Cancer Centre (Drs Thomas and Pelletier); and Departments of Psychology and Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Dr Pelletier).

Dr Bejoy Thomas is a postdoctoral fellow (2007-2009) funded by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Alberta, Canada.

Corresponding author: Guy Pelletier, PhD, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Alberta Cancer Board-Holy Cross Site, 2202 2nd St SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2S 3C1 (

Accepted for publication April 22, 2008.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.