Ann Berger, Ph.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing professor, tested the effect of a behavioral therapy on sleep quality and cancer-related fatigue in patients undergoing breast cancer treatment.
The five-year, $1.5 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the journal of the world’s largest association of clinical oncologists.
The study was the first to test in depth, a nursing intervention designed to reduce fatigue during and after chemotherapy without using drugs. It also was the first time the sleep interventions were tested in people with cancer.
Though study outcomes were different from what the researchers expected, sleep quality and quantity improved in many women.
“We found that women who followed the sleep intervention benefitted more compared to those who did not follow it,” said Dr. Berger, Dorothy Hodges Olson Endowed Chair in Nursing. “They felt like they got a good night’s sleep. We thought our sleep intervention would play a major part in reducing fatigue, however we found no statistical significance between the group that received the intervention and the group that didn’t.”
She said the reason may be because patients in both groups reported milder fatigue than reported previously. “We found that adequate sleep isn’t the only answer to reducing fatigue. Poor sleep contributes to fatigue, but it’s not the only thing,” she said.
The study provides a benchmark to identify who is at greatest risk for persistent fatigue and sleep problems after treatment.
Results of the abstract are available online at http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/JCO.2008.20.8306v1.
Others involved in the study at UNMC include: Julie Chamberlain, Mary Pat Roh, Trish Fischer, Susanna Von Essen, M.D., Brett Kuhn, Ph.D., Lynne Farr, Ph.D., James Lynch, Ph.D., and Sangeeta Agrawal. Tom Davis, Pharm.D., and Anne Kessinger, M.D., of UNMC, and Kathryn Lee, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, served as consultants.
As the state’s only academic health science center, UNMC is on the leading edge of health care. Breakthroughs are possible because hard-working researchers, educators and clinicians are resolved to work together to fuel discovery. In 2009, UNMC’s extramural research support topped $100 million for the first time, resulting in the creation of 3,600 jobs in Nebraska. UNMC’s academic excellence is shown through its award-winning programs, and its educational programs are responsible for training more health professionals practicing in Nebraska than any other institution. Through its commitment to education, research, patient care and outreach, UNMC and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, have established themselves as one of the country’s leading health care centers. UNMC’s physician practice group, UNMC Physicians, includes 550 physicians in 50 specialties and subspecialties who practice primarily in The Nebraska Medical Center. For more information, go to UNMC’s Web site at www.unmc.edu.