Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial of telephone support for people with tiredness (fatigue) caused by chemotherapy
This trial tested a telephone support service to help people with moderate to severe chemotherapy related tiredness (fatigue).
Researchers have been looking at treating cancer related fatigue using teaching and support. People who had this type of help from nurses found that their fatigue improved. Researchers also found that talking to people individually was more successful than talking in groups.
In this trial, researchers looked at telephone support. The trial was in 2 parts. The 1st part looked at what a small group of patients and health care professionals thought about cancer nurses using the telephone to contact people, and support them in their homes. The 2nd part tested the support service.
The researchers hoped that telephone support would improve quality of life and reduce feelings of fatigue, anxiety and depression. The aim of the trial was to test how well the support plan worked to reduce chemotherapy related fatigue
Summary of results
The researchers found that the telephone support service helped people with chemotherapy related fatigue. It helped to reduce feelings of fatigue and the distress that it caused.
8 people who’d had chemotherapy and 12 healthcare professionals including cancer doctors and nurses joined the 1st part of the trial. The researchers talked to them all to get ideas on how to put the telephone support system into practice. When they had all the information they needed, the 2nd part of the trial began.
44 people having chemotherapy through a drip into a vein joined the 2nd part of the trial
- Half had 3 sessions by phone over a period of 3 months. These were with an experienced cancer nurse offering information and support
- Half had care as usual
Everyone filled out questionnaires before the trial started and after it finished. The questionnaires asked about how people had been feeling and about issues such as fatigue, anxiety and depression.
The researchers compared the answers in the questionnaires. They found that
- The people who had telephone support reported feeling less fatigued and anxious than the people who had usual care
- The people who had usual care reported that their feelings of fatigue and anxiety got worse over time
- There was no difference between the 2 groups in how depressed people felt
The researchers concluded that this small trial showed it was possible to offer telephone support to people with fatigue from chemotherapy. They recommend that this is looked at further in a larger clinical trial.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Emma Ream
King's College London
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)