Nursing Intervention for Fatigue During the Treatment for Cancer

Ellen J. M. de Nijs, CNS, MSc; Winand Ros, PhD; Mieke H. Grijpdonck, PhD


Cancer Nurs. 2008;31(3):191-206. 

In This Article


Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a common symptom in patients treated for cancer. For patients receiving chemotherapy, the prevalence is 75% to 90%; in those receiving radiation, 65%. The management of CRF is difficult because its nature is not yet fully explained and it has a variety of causes. The purpose of the review is to identify interventions that can be used by nurses successfully to reduce fatigue during cancer treatment. A search of the medical (PubMed) and nursing (CINAHL) literature (1995 to February 2005) produced 18 studies. In two-thirds of the studies, the populations were breast cancer patients. Half of the studies had a sample size of less then 30 patients. The studies included dealt with sleep promotion (1), instruction and education (5), exercise (10), and distraction and relaxation (2). Significant effects were found in studies promoting exercise. For interventions on sleep promotion and on education and counseling, a positive result was found, but this was not significant. For distraction and relaxation, only an effect until a few hours after the intervention was found. Given the multidimensional nature of CRF, a combination of interventions is most likely to be effective. Thus far, such an approach by nurses during cancer treatment has not been tested.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.