Chan, C. W., Richardson, A., & Richardson, J. (2011). Managing symptoms in patients with advanced lung cancer during radiotherapy: results of a psychoeducational randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 41, 347–357.doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2010.04.024
To examine the effectiveness of a psychoeducational intervention (PEI) on the symptom cluster of anxiety, breathlessness, and fatigue compared with usual care.
Education on symptom management and coaching on the use of progressive muscle relaxation was delivered to patients one week prior to the start of radiotherapy (RT) and repeated three weeks after beginning RT. Symptom data were collected at four times points: prior to the intervention and at three, six, and 12 weeks postintervention.
The study was a randomized, controlled trial using a pre-/posttest design with two groups.
A significant difference (p = 0.003) was seen over time on the pattern of change of the symptom cluster between the PEI intervention and the usual care control group. Significant effects on patterns of changes in breathlessness (p = 0.002), fatigue (p = 0.011), anxiety (p = 0.001), and functional ability (p = 0.000) were found.
PEI is an effective treatment for relieving the symptom cluster of anxiety, breathlessness, and fatigue and each of the individually assessed symptoms.
The study provided evidence to support the symptom cluster of anxiety, breathlessness, and fatigue as interrelated, with assessment and management of those three symptoms as a cluster. Clarification of the nature of their interrelatedness is a potential area of further study. Education and counseling patients through nurses can be helpful in the management of these symptoms.