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“You feel different in your body”: Experiences of fatigue among children undergoing radiotherapy for cancer treatment

      Highlights

      • Some children described fatigue as physical, mental or a combination of both.
      • Fatigue impacted on many aspects of their lives such as daily activities, mood and social interaction.
      • Assessment of fatigue during radiotherapy treatment is key to improve well-being of children with cancer.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      The aim of this research is to examine the experience and impact of radiotherapy related fatigue in children diagnosed with solid tumours.

      Design and methods

      Children (n = 25) and parents (n = 19) participated in a semi-structured interview on the last week of radiotherapy treatment. The study sample included children who were 6 to 14 years of age, diagnosed with brain or solid tumour, and received radiotherapy as part of their treatment protocol over the period of 6 weeks. Interpretation of data was undertaken through the adoption of thematic analysis approach.

      Results

      Data revealed children's experience and response to fatigue while undergoing radiotherapy. Several recurring themes arose about their experience of fatigue/tiredness while undergoing radiotherapy. Two themes and eight sub themes, namely ‘Experience of Fatigue’ (“You feel Different in your body”, Mood and Feeling, Activity and Occurrence) and ‘Response to Fatigue’ (Rest and Sleep, Activity, Mood and Concentration and Eating Habit) were identified.

      Conclusions

      The findings illustrated significant fatigue on activity sleep, rest and mood of children undergoing radiotherapy.

      Practice implications

      Monitoring and addressing fatigue and its consequences during radiotherapy treatment are essential to improve well-being of children with cancer.

      Keywords

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