Real-time Fatigue and Free-Living Physical Activity in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Cancer Survivors and Healthy Controls: A Preliminary Examination of the Temporal, Dynamic Relationship

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Abstract

Background:

Fatigue and physical inactivity, critical problems facing cancer survivors, impact overall health and functioning. Our group designed a novel methodology to evaluate the temporal, dynamic patterns in real-world settings.

Objective:

Using real-time technology, the temporal, dynamic relationship between real-time fatigue and free-living is described and compared in cancer survivors who were treated with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (n = 25) and age- and gender-matched healthy controls (n = 25).

Methods:

Subjects wore wrist actigraphs on their nondominant hand to assess free-living physical activity, measured in 1-minute epochs, over 7 days. Subjects entered real-time fatigue assessments directly into the subjective event marker of the actigraph 5 times per day. Running averages of mean 1-minute activity counts 30, 60, and 120 minutes before and after each real-time fatigue score were correlated with real-time fatigue using generalized estimating equations,

Results:

A strong inverse relationship exists between real-time fatigue and subsequent free-living physical activity. This inverse relationship suggests that increasing real-time fatigue limits subsequent physical activity (B range= −0.002 to −0.004; P < .001). No significant differences in the dynamic patterns of real-time fatigue and free-living physical activity were found between groups.

Conclusions:

To our knowledge, this is the first study to document the temporal and potentially causal relationship between real-time fatigue and free-living physical activity in real-world setting. These findings suggest that fatigue drives the subsequent physical activity and the relationship may not be bidirectional.

Implications for Practice:

Understanding the temporal, dynamic relationship may have important health implications for developing interventions to address fatigue in cancer survivors.

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