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Clarann Weinert
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Living with Cancer: A Four State Study

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Project Overview

Fatigue, a subjective experience of tiredness, decreased energy, and decreased mental and motor skills associated with cancer therapy, is one of the most vexing problems cancer patients must face. To find ways that health professionals can help people undergoing cancer therapy to deal with this problem, it is necessary to develop reliable and valid measurements to study fatigue in cancer patients.

The purpose of the proposed research is to increase the number of valid and reliable measures available to study fatigue in cancer patients. The method is a psychometric assessment of two fatigue scales in four samples of cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The two scales are the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and the Visual Analogue Scale of Fatigue (VAS-F). Both scales were originally developed for use with patients without cancer diagnoses, but have been re-validated for use with cancer patients. The specific aims are: a) to assess the reliability of the FSS and the VAS-F in four samples of cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation, b) to assess the validity of the FSS and the VAS-F in four samples of cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation.

This project is being conducted using four economically and culturally distinct areas within four states (VT, MT, ME, GA). At each site, 130 women and men undergoing cancer treatment and 20 individuals who do not have a diagnosis of cancer will participate. At treatment centers or other health care sites, participants waiting for their appointment will be approached about participating in the study. If they meet the criteria and are willing to participate, they will be given a questionnaire. Since it is a short questionnaire, it can be completed at that time. Or if the participants prefer it can be taken home, completed, and mailed back.

The Montana sample will be rural men and women. To participate they must:

Live at least 25 miles outside of Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, Kalispell. Rural dwellers from Wyoming, South Dakota, or North Dakota are welcome to participate.

Be 30 to 70 years of age.

Be an outpatient receiving treatment for cancer (prior to their current treatment they must have had no cancer treatment in the last 10 years).

Be able to read and write English.

The 20 people at each research site, without cancer, will complete the same questionnaire which will serve as a baseline to test the two fatigue scales. They will be made aware of the study by word of mouth and public media.

Nurses from the Billings Oncology Nurses Association will be the primary data collectors for the patient's with cancer and for the community sample (without cancer) MSU graduate nursing students will be involved.




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