Cognitive Representation of Treatment-Related Symptoms in Older Adults With Cancer
Adults, 65 years or older, are the most common age group diagnosed with cancer. However, little is known about their beliefs (representations) regarding treatment-related symptoms or how they make decisions to manage those symptoms at home.Objective:
The aim of this study is to explore symptom representation of treatment-related symptoms in older adults with cancer.Methods:
A total of 100 older adults in treatment for cancer completed a standardized measure of symptom representation. Demographic and other patient variables were also collected. Analysis of variance, t tests, and Pearson correlations were used for analysis.Results:
Fatigue was both the most common and most noted symptom; however, several most noted symptoms were not common. Overall, older adults believed symptoms were caused by either their cancer or treatment and were unsure if symptoms would last a long time. They were able to recognize symptom consequences but were unsure about their ability to control symptoms. Adults who reported more comorbid illnesses and a higher number of symptoms believed that treatment-related symptoms had higher consequences.Conclusions:
Findings suggest that older adults experience symptom-related consequences but question the impact that their actions will have on symptom severity. This may contribute to older adult’s lack of active symptom self-management.Implications for Practice:
Patient education strategies need to address these representations and new interventions may need to be developed to reinforce symptom consequences and empower older adults to self-manage symptoms.