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%).
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.
2010. Vol. 14, no 5, 359-366 p.
Activities of daily living; ADL; Cancer; Emesis; Functional status; Occupational therapy; Side-effects; Physiotherapy; Vomiting