Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 59–66 | Cite as

The impact of chemotherapy-related nausea on patients' nutritional status, psychological distress and quality of life

  • Carole Farrell
  • Sarah G. Brearley
  • Mark Pilling
  • Alex MolassiotisEmail author
Original Article



Nausea is a troublesome and distressing symptom for patients receiving chemotherapy. While vomiting is well controlled with current antiemetics, nausea is a more difficult symptom to manage. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of nausea on nutritional status, quality of life and psychological distress.


This was a prospective observational study over two cycles of chemotherapy. Patients completed the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer Antiemesis Tool, a measure of nutritional status (Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment), the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G) quality of life scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale at the end of each chemotherapy cycle (around day 10 post-chemotherapy).


The sample consisted of 104 patients, primarily female, receiving anthracycline-based chemotherapy. While vomiting was minimal (5.2–14.6 % of the patients), high levels of nausea were observed (55.2–72.9 %), and severe nausea (>6 on a 0–10 scale) was reported by 20.5–29.2 % of the participants. Severe nausea had a borderline significant impact in relation to physical functioning (p = 0.025) and a significant impact on nutritional status (severe acute nausea, p = 0.003; severe delayed nausea, p = 0.017). Clinically meaningful changes were observed in relation to the FACT-G total score.


Chemotherapy-induced nausea does have an impact on nutritional status and physical functioning and can impair anxiety and quality of life. As a key symptom associated with other symptoms, it is imperative that greater attention is given to managing treatment-related nausea through innovative non-pharmacological and nutritional interventions.


Nausea Chemotherapy Nutrition Anxiety Depression Quality of life Physical functioning 



This study was funded by the European Oncology Nursing Society through its Major Grant Award.

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole Farrell
    • 1
  • Sarah G. Brearley
    • 2
  • Mark Pilling
    • 3
  • Alex Molassiotis
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Christie NHS Foundation TrustManchesterUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and MedicineLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  3. 3.School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social WorkUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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