, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 505-514

Reductions in anaemia and fatigue are associated with improvements in productivity in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy

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Abstract

Objective: Cancer-related anaemia is associated with fatigue that adversely affects patients’ everyday functioning and wellbeing. We explore the impact of fatigue on patient productivity and caregiver burden.

Methods: The analyses are based on data from a randomised, open-label, active-controlled, dose-finding trial of darbepoetin alfa among solid-tumour cancer patients with anaemia, who are receiving chemotherapy. Fatigue is assessed with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT)-Fatigue subscale score. Productivity and caregiver outcomes include time (hours) missed from usual activities, amount of assistance (hours) needed from others, overall ability to perform desired activities and ability to perform family responsibilities. These outcomes are assessed at baseline and the end of the 12-week treatment period. ANOVA and linear regression models are used to evaluate associations.

Results: Patients (n = 300) were aged 61 years on average, with a mean (SD) baseline haemoglobin of 9.9 (0.9) g/dL. FACT-Fatigue subscale score improvements were significantly (p = 0.003) associated with haemoglobin improvements. Over a 2-week period, after controlling for age, sex and disease progression, one-point improvements in FACT-Fatigue subscale scores corresponded to a 1-hour (95% CI 0.5, 1.5) gain in productive time, 0.7-hour (95% CI 0.4, 1.0) reduction in caregiver time and 1.6% (95% CI 1.4, 1.7) improvement in overall activity.

Conclusions: Reducing fatigue is associated with gains in productive time, reductions in caregiver burden and enhanced ability to perform activities. These outcomes may have broader implications for patients’ wellbeing and for the societal impact of cancer-related fatigue and anaemia.