Background: Although cancer-related fatigue has been given priority status for study in Western countries, unfortunately, it has not received enough attention in China. Based on a different cultural perspective, qualitative study regarding cancer-related fatigue in China can provide a cultural context for enriching the system of knowledge about fatigue. Objectives: To explore the real-life experiences of fatigue from the perspectives of Chinese Children with leukaemia. Design: A phenomenological study. Setting: A paediatric haematology oncology department of a regional tertiary children's hospital in Shanghai, China. Participants: A total of 14 children and adolescents with leukaemia, aged 7-18 years old, without known psychiatric or developmental disorders, was selected by purposive sampling. Methods: Four focus group interviews were conducted with nine open-ended, semi-structured questions. Findings: Cancer-related fatigue is a common and distressing issue for Chinese children and adolescents with leukaemia. Three themes were finally generated: 'fatigue is an open interpretation among children and adolescents', 'fatigue is not a single-dimensional aspect', and 'struggles with fatigue and balancing life suffering'. Fatigue, which is closely related to physical, psychological and situational factors, has negative affects on the participants physically, psychologically and on their cognitive well-being, and can impact the family, school and social interaction of children with leukaemia. Conclusions: Children and adolescents could easily distinguish cancer-related fatigue from normal fatigue. The participants' message to health professionals is that fatigue is a multidimensional and multifactorial symptom that should be comprehensively understood and managed. The findings provide insight and direction for clinical practice and research regarding intervention development and education plans for cancer-related fatigue for paediatric oncology patients.
- Qualitative research
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