Fatigue, sleep disturbance, and physical inactivity have been increasingly recognized as health issues that negatively affect quality of life (QoL) for children with cancer. Existing studies focus either on children receiving treatment or in survivorship, but not on both populations in a study. This causes difficulty in examining differences of these issues between treatment statuses and identifying associations of these issues with QoL.
The aims of this study were to examine differences in fatigue, sleep disturbance, physical activity, and QoL between on- and off-treatment children and to identify their associations with QoL.
The correlational study was conducted with 100 children with cancer 7 to 12 years old. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate regression analyses were used.
Participants undergoing treatment had higher degrees of fatigue (P = .002), physical inactivity (P = .004), and QoL distress (P = .001) than those in survivorship. Mean sums (SDs) of sleep disturbance were 47.15 (8.23) and 48.48 (7.13) in the on- and off-treatment groups. Age (P = .000), sex (P = .023), fatigue (P = .000), and sleep disturbance (P = .004) were significantly associated with QoL distress.
This study is unique in that a frame of reference is addressed to gain insight into the distinct developmental issues of school-aged children undergoing cancer treatment and in survivorship. More studies are needed.
Implications for Practice
Interventions to increase QoL should target children who are younger, male, and have higher levels of fatigue and sleep disturbance. Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbance should be considered as part of routine activities.