Factors Affecting Performance of Usual Activities During Radiation Therapy

Patricia Poirier

activity, quality of life, symptom management
ONF 2007, 34(4), 827-834. DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.827-834

Purpose/Objectives: To examine factors that might affect patients' ability to perform their usual activities during radiation therapy.

Design: Prospective, longitudinal design.

Setting: A community hospital radiation oncology department.

Sample: 77 patients receiving radiation therapy for curative or adjuvant intent.

Methods: The role function mode of the Roy Adaptation Model guided the study. Participants rated the extent to which they were performing their usual activities on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (all the time). Data were collected at baseline prior to starting radiation, weekly during treatment, and one month post-treatment. Cross-sectional and longitudinal regression analyses were used to capture changes in performance of usual activities over time.

Main Research Variables: Performance of usual activities, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), fatigue, and side effects.

Findings: Participants maintained relatively high performance status throughout the course of treatment. The ability to perform usual activities decreased significantly from baseline to the end of treatment. Ability to perform usual activities was highly negatively correlated with fatigue and side effects. Work, sick-leave benefits, living situation, fatigue, KPS, and comorbidities were associated with ability to perform usual activities along the trajectory of radiation therapy.

Conclusions: Fatigue and side effects of treatment negatively affected patients' ability to carry out their usual activities during radiation therapy.

Implications for Nursing: Management of side effects of treatment, including fatigue, and supporting patients' need to work or not work during treatment may help patients continue to perform activities that are important to them during radiation therapy.

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