When patients are experiencing cancer-related fatigue, oncology nurses might want to consider referring them to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), explained Hanneke Poort, PhD, a psychologist and post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychosocial Psychology and Palliative Care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
CBT can help patients manage long-term psychosocial implications of fatigue, such as catastrophizing their fatigue and worrying about what the future might bring.
Some of the interventions that have shown to be helpful in reducing fatigue for cancer patients are focused on impacting the psychological factors of fatigue. So, one of these interventions is called cognitive behavior therapy and this intervention really focuses on factors that persist fatigue over time.
What we often see in patients that are severely fatigued during cancer treatment is that they might catastrophize about this fatigue being so awful and never getting any better, and we know that is something we can help them deal with and look differently at. In addition, especially for patients with an advanced cancer diagnosis, we often see that there's quite some uncertainty about the course of their illness and they might worry about the future, or about the cancer treatments they're receiving, and these are also things that they can discuss with a psychologist to help them process and cope better with this uncertainty.