PURPOSE: To identify patients having fatigue, it is necessary to assess the patients fatigue systematically. This study investigates three different approaches to the assessment of needs concerning fatigue in patients with advanced cancer and addresses the following questions.
METHODS: In a cross-sectional nationwide survey, patients were asked about their needs concerning fatigue in three different ways: Fatigue intensity was measured with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire, fatigue burden (the extent fatigue was a problem) and fatigue felt need (whether the patient experienced an unmet need regarding their fatigue) was measured with the Three-Levels-of-Needs Questionnaire. The relations between these three approaches were investigated using cross-tabulations, polychromic correlations, receiver operating curves, and area under the curve.
RESULTS: In total, 1447 patients participated (61 %). Of these, 34 % reported at least quite a bit fatigue (intensity), 36 % reported at least quite a bit fatigue burden, and 35 % reported experiencing an unmet need. There was a high correlation between fatigue intensity and fatigue burden (0.91). Fatigue intensity was also correlated with experiencing an unmet need and having at least a little fatigue predicted experiencing an unmet need.
CONCLUSION: Overall, no matter which approach was used, about a third of the patients had a need concerning fatigue. In nearly all cases, patients who had fatigue also experienced fatigue to be a problem. The QLQ-C30 item 'Were you tired' worked as a screening tool to identify patients experiencing an unmet need concerning fatigue.