, Volume 1, Issue 5, pp 331-340

Quality of life consequences of chemotherapy-induced emesis

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Nausea and vomiting following chemotherapy administration are common and often overlooked causes of impairment in cancer patients. The goal of this study was to explore the broad range of consequences associated with this specific acute toxicity of chemotherapy. Specific objectives were: (1) create and test scales specifically designed to assess the impact of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting or patients' daily function; (2) examine changes in quality of life of cancer patients 3 days following chemotherapy administration; (3) assess the impact of chemotherapy-induced emesis on quality of life and patients' daily function; (4) identify medical and non-medical cost-related consequences associated with chemotherapy-induced emesis. Patients receiving intermittent bolus chemotherapy regimens on an out-patient basis were eligible for this survey. Four instruments were used: a patient maintained diary, the Functional Living Index—Cancer (FLIC), a newly created Functional Living Index—Emesis (FLIE) and an Item Check list for cost-related consequences. On Day 1, before chemotherapy, patients completed the FLIC and FLIE. Patients recorded episodes on vomiting, severity of nausea, anxiety, sedation, antiemetics self-administered, and adverse effects in diaries for 3 days following chemotherapy. The FLIC and FLIE were completed at the end of Day 3. The Item Check list of cost-related consequences was administered as a telephone survey on Day 5. Approximately 56% of 122 patients reported chemotherapy-induced emesis (CIE). A change in mean FLIC score indicating a decline in quality of life was observed for the CIE group (119 to 101) but not in the group who did not report emesis (124 to 122). Decline in FLIC and FLIE from before to after chemotherapy administration was greater for CIE patients (p=0.001). FLIE scores indicated that CIE patients perceived that vomiting, and to a slightly lesser extent, nausea substantively influenced their ability to complete household tasks, enjoy meals, spend time with family and friends, and maintain daily function and recreation. Effect size calculations supported a significant negative relationship between occurrence of CIE and the direction and magnitude of functional living index change. An exploratory analysis (principal component followed by regression analysis) supported the hypothesis that side-effects produced by chemotherapy and antiemetic therapy significantly contributed to changes in quality of life observed. Of patients who experienced CIE 23% were unable to go to work due to emesis; 22% reported they were unable to prepare meals due to emesis; 12% reported that emesis made them unable to care for themselves; 12% reported that they were unable to take prescribed medications on at least one occasion during the 3-day period due to emesis. Psychometric assessment of the FLIE support the validity and reliability of the instrument. Reasons for and consequences of chemotherapy-induced emesis in outpatient oncology populations merit further investigation.

Supported in part by the Department of Pharmacoeconomic Research, Glaxo Inc.