(September 1, 2020) Cathy Rozmus, Lynn L. White, Anthony H. Risser, Richard Hara, Mitch Golant, Tito Mendoza, Marlene Z. Cohen. Cancer-related Fatigue Reported in Online Discussion Groups. Western Journal of Nursing Research, published online August 31, 2020. doi.org/10.1177/0193945920954142
Fatigue is a prevalent cancer-related symptom that is difficult to communicate, define, and treat. To obtain robust descriptions of symptoms, participants were recruited into two online groups that consisted of their dialoguing together in an asynchronous, threaded discussion forum. Participants dialogued for 5 months and completed pre- and post-participation demographic data and symptom ratings. Survey data were described, and change scores were calculated. Excerpts from the dialogue were analyzed using phenomenological techniques. The 28 participants reported low symptoms that did not change significantly from pre- to post-participation. Phenomenological analysis revealed three themes: descriptions of “bone-sucking fatigue,” a search for meaning or answers about the fatigue, and attempted remedies. Online support groups provide a venue for sharing symptom experiences, adding to existing knowledge about symptoms in survivors. These descriptions provide information that will aid in developing patient-centered interventions.