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Emesis and gastrointestinal problems during radiotherapy: A comparison of performance of daily activities between patients experiencing nausea and patients free from nausea
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Nursing Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Karolinska Institutet.
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Nursing Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Department of Oncology UHL.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9786-7326
2010 (English)In: European Journal of Oncology Nursing, ISSN 1462-3889, E-ISSN 1532-2122, Vol. 14, no 5, 359-366 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose of the research

To describe the experiences of nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems during radiotherapy, and to compare patients experiencing nausea with patients not experiencing nausea regarding performance in daily activities, sleeping and eating capacity.

Methods and sample

A cross-sectional sample of 131 Swedish radiotherapy patients answered a questionnaire regarding the preceding week of radiotherapy. Mean age was 63 years (standard deviation 12.1) and 56% were women. The radiotherapy fields were breast (35%), abdomen/pelvis (15%), prostate/bladder (21%), head/neck (10%) and other (8%).

Key results

The patients experiencing nausea within the observed week (n = 31) had, compared to the patients not experiencing nausea (n = 100), lower ability in daily activities in general (p = 0.001), in shopping (p = 0.014), walking (p = 0.007) and social interaction (p = 0.007). Of the patients with nausea 48% had seldom woken up rested and 34% were not able to eat as much as they used to. Corresponding figures for nausea free patients were 27% (not significant; ns) and 16% (ns). Six (5%) experienced vomiting, 15 (12%) diarrhoea, 23 (18%) constipation and 52 (40%) any gastrointestinal symptoms. Forty seven (90%) were negatively bothered by the experienced gastrointestinal symptoms.


The fourth of patients experiencing nausea during radiotherapy had lower ability to perform daily activities than the three quarters of patients who were free from nausea. Few patients vomited while 40% experienced gastrointestinal symptoms during the observed week of radiotherapy. This implies that health care professionals could consider identifying nauseous patients that possibly need support in nausea-reduction and in daily activities during radiotherapy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 14, no 5, 359-366 p.
Keyword [en]
Activities of daily living; ADL; Cancer; Emesis; Functional status; Occupational therapy; Side-effects; Physiotherapy; Vomiting
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-61286DOI: 10.1016/j.ejon.2009.10.005PubMedID: 20207194OAI: diva2:369397
Available from: 2010-11-10 Created: 2010-11-10 Last updated: 2013-09-03

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Enblom, AnnaBörjeson, Susanne
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Nursing ScienceFaculty of Health SciencesDepartment of Oncology UHL
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