Rehabilitation Group Significantly Reduces Fatigue-Related Stress

August 1, 2001

TAMPA, Florida-A rehabilitation group program-Energy for Living With Cancer-has the ability to reduce fatigue-related distress and improve quality of life, according to program developer Sandra Holley, PhD, ARNP, a nurse scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center, Tampa. Dr. Holley presented her results in a poster session at the Oncology Nursing Society’s 26th Annual Congress.

TAMPA, Florida—A rehabilitation group program—Energy for Living With Cancer—has the ability to reduce fatigue-related distress and improve quality of life, according to program developer Sandra Holley, PhD, ARNP, a nurse scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center, Tampa. Dr. Holley presented her results in a poster session at the Oncology Nursing Society’s 26th Annual Congress.

The Energy for Living With Cancer program is a structured rehabilitation intervention designed to educate patients about cancer-related fatigue and to provide support and sharing among participants. Patients meet for 90 minutes once a week for 8 weeks.

The education component covers topics such as risk factors for fatigue, how fatigue affects daily living, and fatigue management strategies. In the sharing and support component, patients relay their experiences, share coping techniques, and provide emotional support for one another.

To test the effectiveness of the program, Dr. Holley conducted a prospective pre/post-test study involving 20 program participants. The mean age of the participants was 63.6 (range, 38 to 86). Six different types of cancer were represented, and 15 of the patients were receiving cancer therapy at the time.

At the start of the program, study participants completed the Cancer-Related Fatigue Distress Scale, the Center for Epidemiological Studies—Depression form, and the Functional Living Index—Cancer scale. Upon study completion, participants re-took the tests and completed a program rating form.

Program rating results indicated a high degree of patient satisfaction with the program. On a scale of 0 to 10, the mean rating in the program evaluation was 9.8. Patients indicated that the educational topics were relevant and beneficial and that the 8-week fatigue-management intervention provided much-needed information and emotional support.

Moreover, post-program test results showed significant improvements in fatigue-related distress and quality of life. Fatigue distress scores decreased from a mean of 192.95 to 145.45, and quality-of-life scores increased from 98.65 to 145.45—nearly a 50% improvement. Depression scores decreased from 24.05 to 21.0, but this difference was not statistically significant.

Dr. Holley said that these preliminary findings indicate that the Energy for Living With Cancer program is appropriate and beneficial for cancer patients experiencing fatigue, even for those who are quite debilitated.