The reciprocal relationship between daily fatigue and catastrophizing following cancer treatment: Affect and physical activity as potential mediators

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OBJECTIVE: Fatigue is a distressing symptom many cancer patients experience even after completion of treatment. Although theory and empirical evidence indicate that negative cognitions perpetuate fatigue after completion of treatment, insight into how this process unfolds in daily life is limited. This study used an intensive longitudinal design to investigate the reciprocal relationship between catastrophizing and fatigue in daily life and whether affective and behavioral processes mediate these relationships.

METHODS: Post-treatment colorectal cancer patients (n = 101) completed daily diaries (14 days, 3 times daily) regarding their fatigue, catastrophizing, positive and negative affect, and physical activity. Multilevel modeling was applied to investigate within-person associations within days.

RESULTS: Analyses revealed a positive reciprocal relationship between fatigue and catastrophizing throughout the day. That is, high levels of catastrophizing were associated with increases in fatigue within patients. In turn, but to a lesser extent, high levels of fatigue predicted increases in catastrophizing at the next assessment. Low positive affect and high negative affect mediated the effect of catastrophizing on increases in fatigue. Only negative affect mediated the reverse relationship. Physical activity did not mediate either relationship.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for a mutually reinforcing relationship between catastrophizing and fatigue in daily life, which might explain the perpetuation of fatigue after completion of cancer treatment. Fatigue-specific cognitive behavior therapy could be improved by educating patients about this daily reciprocal relationship, train them to quickly replace catastrophizing thoughts in daily life, and help them to cope with affective changes induced by fatigue.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)831-837
Aantal pagina's7
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
StatusPublished - mrt.-2018

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