Chemobrain: A Pilot Study Exploring the Severity and Onset of Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Impairment

Kelly Moore

Sonja Stutzman

Laurin Priddy

DaiWai Olson

cognitive impairment, oncology, symptom management, antineoplastic combined chemotherapy protocols
CJON 2019, 23(4), 411-416. DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.411-416

Background: Chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment refers to a cluster of symptoms commonly referred to as “chemobrain”. To date, nursing literature on the progression of and tools used to evaluate chemobrain is limited.

Objectives: The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the onset of chemobrain in patients who recently began chemotherapy treatment, as well as those who have been receiving chemotherapy for an extended period of time.

Methods: This prospective, nonrandomized, observational pilot feasibility study used the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition and the Trail Making Test Parts A and B to examine chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment symptoms in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Findings: Paired t tests showed a significant difference in scores on the Trail Making Test Part A from baseline to eight months (p < 0.05) and in scores on the Trail Making Test Part B from four to eight months (p < 0.05). The mixed results suggest that the Trail Making Test Parts A and B may not be effective for testing chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment in patients.

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