Comparing patient, parent, and staff descriptions of fatigue in pediatric oncology patients.
Fatigue in children and adolescents with cancer is a disruptive symptom meriting clinical intervention by nurses, but has eluded definition, measurement, and intervention. Fatigue in these patients exists within a greater context of illness, treatment, and child and family development. Any effort to define, measure, and intervene with fatigue needs to take into consideration the major components of these children and adolescents' treatment context. The purpose of this descriptive study was to learn from three perspectives (patient, parent, and staff) how fatigue is identified and defined in 7- to 12-year-old children and in 13- to 18-year-old adolescents with cancer, and what factors contribute to or alleviate this fatigue. To elicit this information, separate focus groups were conducted with patients, parents, and staff at two pediatric oncology centers. Resulting interview data were analyzed using pragmatic and semantic content analysis techniques and the Wilson concept analysis process. Findings clearly indicated that children, adolescents, parents, and staff define patient fatigue differently. The conceptual definition from the child data emphasizes the physical sensation of the fatigue; alternating and at times merging physical and mental tiredness are emphasized in the adolescent's definition. Parents and staff view themselves as responsible for alleviating patient fatigue; patients viewed rest and distraction as their primary sources of improving fatigue. The conceptual definitions of fatigue as rendered by our three groups of participants can assist pediatric oncology patients, their parents, and staff in identifying fatigue. Factors identified by these participants as contributing or alleviating fatigue could be the basis for future interventions designed to reduce fatigue in pediatric oncology patients.
Hinds, PS; Hockenberry Eaton, M; Gilger, E; Kline, N; Burleson, C; Bottomley, S; Quargnenti, A
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