Schwartz, A.L., Thompson, J.A., & Masood, N. (2002). Interferon-induced fatigue in patients with melanoma: A pilot study of exercise and methylphenidate. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29(7), E85–E90.doi:10.1188/02.ONF.E85-E90
This study was conducted to examine the effect of exercise and methylphenidate (MPH) on fatigue, functional ability, and cognitive function in patients with melanoma. It also aimed to determine the percentage of patients who adhered to interferon-alfa, MPH, and exercise treatment.
The intervention group was given 20 mg of long-acting MPH every morning for four months and took part in at least 15–20 minutes of aerobic exercise four days per week. The duration and intensity of exercise gradually increased over the study's four months.
Assessments were completed prior to the first dose of interferon-alfa. Subsequent assessments of functional ability and cognition function (using Trail Making Test forms) and quality of life were repeated at one and four months after baseline. Subsequent assessments of fatigue scale, body weight, daily activity, and medication logs were submitted monthly.
The study took place at a university-based cancer center.
This was a longitudinal pilot study with descriptive/exploratory design. It made use of a historic control group for comparison.
Functional ability increased an average of 6% for all participants and 9% for the treatment group. A percent change in a 12-minute walk was negatively related to TMT-A (p = 0.04) and TMT-B (p = 0.05), suggesting a relationship between higher exercise and improved cognitive functioning (indicated by lower scores on TMT). Taking MPH was correlated with improved TMT-B performance at 4 months (r = -0.85, p < 0.001).
All participants' cognitive function scores were within normal ranges at baseline. Sixty-six percent of participants adhered to MPH at four months; all subjects continued to exercise at four months.
The combination of exercise and MPH has positive effects on cognitive function, functional ability, and fatigue over time. The authors suggest that MPH may have contributed to better exercise adherence.