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

Carole Farrell, Sarah G. Brearley, Mark Pilling, Alexandros Molasiotis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: 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. Methods: 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). Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Chemotherapy
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Nutrition
  • Physical functioning
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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