What is the role of psychological factors in nausea during cancer therapy?
A study in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics sheds new light on the relationship between psychological factors and nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy of cancer.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) continue to be a distressing problem still reported by cancer patients, with negative consequences on quality of life (QoL). The Authors aimed to prospectively explore the association of psychosocial variables, including emotional distress, maladaptive coping styles and the doctor-patient relationship, with CINV and QoL among cancer outpatients. A prospective study was conducted on 302 consecutive cancer patients (response rate 80.9%) in Austria, Italy and Spain.
The Distress Thermometer (DT), the Mini-Mental Adjustment to Cancer (Mini-MAC), and the Patient Satisfaction with Doctor Questionnaire (PSQ) were used to assess psychosocial variables before chemotherapy. In the 5 days after chemotherapy, CINV was examined by using a daily diary, and the Functional Living Index for Emesis (FLIE) was used to assess QoL. Results show that more than half of the patients reported nausea (54%), and a small percentage reported vomiting (14%). CINV had a negative impact on QoL (FLIE caseness, p < 0.01). Maladaptive coping (i.e. hopelessness-helplessness and anxious preoccupation) and emotional distress were associated with CINV (p < 0.05) and poorer QoL (p < 0.05). In logistic regression analysis, nausea was predicted by Mini-MAC/H (OR = 1.1, p = 0.03) and younger age (OR = 0.97, p = 0.04); negative impact on QoL was predicted by grade of chemotherapy emetogenesis (OR = 1.7, p < 0.01) and Mini-MAC/H (OR = 1.2, p = 0.04).
The Authors concluded that screening and assessment of psychological variables, especially coping, could help in identifying cancer patients at risk for chemotherapy-induced nausea, in spite of the use of antiemetic treatment.