Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Cranwell-Bruce

Second Advisor

Professor Laura DeMars




The purpose of this project was to determine if referral of patients with cancer-related fatigue to physical therapy as an intervention would improve patient fatigue levels and quality of life, and to develop and implement a change in policy and procedure within a select healthcare system for health care providers to adequately address cancer-related fatigue.


Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among individuals diagnosed with cancer and is often exacerbated by cancer treatment; however, cancer-related fatigue remains undertreated despite the negative impact it has on quality of life (Thong et al., 2020; Gerber, 2016). With the number of individuals being diagnosed with cancer and death rates from cancer declining, it is imperative cancer-related fatigue is adequately assessed and treated.


To gather additional supporting evidence and using a pre- and post-intervention survey design, adults diagnosed with cancer and cancer-related fatigue were recruited from outpatient oncology clinics affiliated with a large healthcare system in Atlanta, Georgia. Self-reported fatigue and quality of life were assessed pre and post participant completion of 4-6 weeks of physical therapy prescribed for the treatment of fatigue. Strategies to improve health care provider assessment and treatment of cancer-related fatigue were outlined including the implementation of a computer-based work rule engine to be integrated into the EHR system to increase compliance of providers in addressing cancer-related fatigue. Steps to achieve a system-wide change in policy and procedure related to the assessment and treatment of cancer-related fatigue also were outlined.


Three participants completed the initial study for the project. Due to a small sample size, analysis of data was limited. Trends in results suggest a decrease in fatigue levels and increase in quality of life of participants who complete 4-6 weeks of physical therapy for cancer-related fatigue.


Referring patients to physical therapy as a treatment plan for cancer-related fatigue may be an effective and efficient way to improve this symptom and positively impact patient quality of life. Implementing a system-wide change in current policy and procedure could simplify the process of assessment and treatment of cancer-related fatigue and increase health care provider compliance in addressing this debilitating symptom.


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