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A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Physical Activity Intervention for Self-management of Fatigue in Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer. Cancer Nurs 2021 Jul-Aug 01;44(4):263-271



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BACKGROUND: Fatigue remains a persistent and troubling symptom for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. Physical activity (PA) is recommended as a strategy for self-management of fatigue.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to examine a PA intervention to improve the self-management of fatigue in AYAs during chemotherapy.

METHODS: This randomized controlled trial enrolled AYAs (18-39 years) receiving chemotherapy. Adolescents and young adults in the intervention group received a 12-week PA intervention integrated into 5 clinic visits that included education, PA tracking, and collaboration. Physical activity was measured with an accelerometer, and participants completed measures of fatigue severity, self-efficacy for PA, and self-regulation at baseline and end of study.

RESULTS: Forty-four AYAs completed the study. At baseline, AYAs averaged 4290 (SD, 2423) steps/day and 14.4 (SD, 20.6) minutes/day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA; their average Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System fatigue score was 55.0 (SD, 9.2). At end of study, there were no significant differences between groups in fatigue, self-efficacy, self-regulation, or PA, but trends in the desired direction were observed for each of the variables in the intervention group.

CONCLUSION: During chemotherapy, AYAs had variable levels of PA and engaged in mostly light-intensity PA. Their average fatigue level was slightly worse than a national comparison group.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Tailored interventions are needed to promote PA in AYAs as a self-management strategy for fatigue. Enhancing self-efficacy and self-regulation may be important approaches to promote PA.

Author List

Erickson JM, Tokarek N, Ke W, Swartz A


Jeanne M. Erickson PhD, RN Associate Professor in the College of Nursing department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Nathan Tokarek in the CTSI department at Medical College of Wisconsin - CTSI

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Exercise Therapy
Follow-Up Studies
Self Efficacy
Young Adult