Some women with breast cancer experience fatigue from their radiotherapy treatment. This study evaluated a tool developed to identify patients at a high/low risk of fatigue. Women at a higher risk of fatigue entered a small trial of an intervention designed to manage fatigue through being active.
Aims were to establish if the trial is feasible to deliver in the radiotherapy pathway and to explore the opinions of the trial and intervention to refine for a definitive trial.
Data from 54 participants indicated that the fatigue score predicted before radiotherapy was a good indicator of fatigue intensity after treatment. 20 women were randomly allocated to receive the intervention with 12 control group participants receiving information alone. Trial processes proved to be feasible and acceptable, with 94% of participants completing all intervention sessions and outcome measures. Key themes emerging from participant interviews were normalising fatigue, how technology can motivate and the importance of activity being tailored to personal contexts.
Participants who received the intervention reported lower average fatigue, comparable physical function, higher belief that fatigue can be controlled, lower anxiety and marginally lower depression score compared to the control group.
A follow on piece of work seeks to work closely with patients to see how technology, such as activity trackers and apps, can best be used to motivate activity. Both studies will inform a larger trial to determine the effectiveness of a refined intervention.