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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 May;17(5):320-32.

Pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances in oncology outpatients receiving radiation therapy for bone metastasis: a pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0610, USA.


Pain and fatigue are two of the most common problems experienced by oncology patients. This study evaluated 24 oncology patients who were receiving radiation therapy for bone metastases to (1) describe the patterns of pain intensity and fatigue severity over a 48-hour period; (2) evaluate for sleep disturbances; (3) describe the relationships between these symptoms and various treatment characteristics; and (4) describe the self-care strategies used by patients to manage pain and fatigue. Patients reported moderate amounts of pain and fatigue. Average pain scores did not vary significantly over a 48-hour period. However, patients reported significantly lower fatigue scores in the morning compared to the evening. In addition, patients experienced significant sleep disturbances, with a mean sleep efficiency index of 70.7% (estimated using wrist actigraphy). Patients with lower Karnofsky Performance Status scores reported more sleep disturbances. In addition, patients who had received a higher percentage of their radiation treatment reported more sleep disturbances. Patients used a variety of self-care strategies to manage pain and fatigue. Additional research is warranted to describe more completely the patterns of pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances in oncology outpatients receiving radiation therapy.

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