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Patterns of fatigue in adolescents receiving chemotherapy. Oncol Nurs Forum 2010 Jul;37(4):444-55



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-77957684991   32 Citations


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe patterns of fatigue in adolescents and the impact of fatigue during one month of chemotherapy, to explore variables that affect fatigue, and to explore the feasibility of collecting daily self-report data in this population.

DESIGN: Longitudinal, descriptive.

SETTING: Two pediatric oncology centers in central Virginia.

SAMPLE: 20 adolescents with a variety of cancer diagnoses receiving chemotherapy.

METHODS: Adolescents described daily fatigue for one month using rating scales and qualitative diaries.


FINDINGS: Adolescents commonly reported a peak in fatigue in the days immediately following chemotherapy administration. The most common pattern for adolescents who received chemotherapy on a schedule every three to four weeks was a "declining rollercoaster" pattern, with fatigue severity alternating on a daily basis but gradually declining until chemotherapy was scheduled again. Adolescents who received chemotherapy weekly showed more frequent peaks and troughs (the "yo-yo" pattern) that did not diminish in severity over the weeks of the study. Adolescents associated fatigue with other symptoms, particularly sleep-wake disturbances, pain, and nausea, and frequently reported that fatigue interfered with daily activities.

CONCLUSIONS: Fatigue commonly bothers adolescents receiving chemotherapy, particularly in the days following chemotherapy administration and when other symptoms are present. Although fatigue interfered with the adolescents' abilities to maintain their usual lifestyles, many still participated in the typical activities of adolescence.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Fatigue is a complex and dynamic symptom. Oncology clinicians and researchers should frequently assess fatigue in adolescents receiving chemotherapy and apply timely and tailored interventions to match the factors that contribute to fatigue and influence fatigue severity. Management of fatigue during treatment will help adolescents stay involved in age-related activities and meet developmental milestones.

Author List

Erickson JM, Beck SL, Christian B, Dudley WN, Hollen PJ, Albritton K, Sennett MM, Dillon R, Godder K


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

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

Antineoplastic Agents
Life Style
Medical Records
Nursing Methodology Research
Oncology Nursing
Severity of Illness Index
Surveys and Questionnaires