Creating Individualized Symptom Management Goals and Strategies for Cancer-Related Fatigue for Patients With Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

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Abstract

Background:

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most common symptoms among women with recurrent ovarian cancer, yet it remains extremely difficult to manage. Symptom management typically requires patients to set goals and strategies to manage their CRF, but little is known about how to create individualized CRF symptom management goals and strategies.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to describe cancer patients’ goals and strategies for managing CRF along with their process of individualizing both.

Methods:

This study is a qualitative analysis with supportive quantitative description of a Web-based symptom management randomized clinical trial, the WRITE (Written Representational Intervention to Ease) Symptoms study. Researchers conducted a content analysis on 47 participants’ CRF symptom care plans to identify common themes in participants’ goals, categorize strategies, and describe the individualization process.

Results:

Four general themes were identified among participants’ CRF goals: (1) enjoying time with friends and family, (2) doing the things I enjoy, (3) having energy to be physically active, and (4) keeping up with what I need to do. Cancer-related fatigue strategies were categorized into 13 groups including conserving energy, increasing activity, and talking with healthcare providers. A multistep individualization process resulted in personally meaningful strategies.

Conclusions:

The process by which participants individualized their CRF strategies consisted of identifying, confirming, testing, and evaluating different CRF strategies and resulted in refined, specific, and individualized strategies intended to eventually ensure participants achieve their goal.

Implications for Practice:

Clinicians can assist patients in individualizing their CRF goals and strategies. Individualization of CRF goals and strategies assists patients in visualizing how improving CRF will impact their life.

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