Harnessing digital health to objectively assess cancer-related fatigue: The impact of fatigue on mobility performance

Yvonne H. Sada, Olia Poursina, He Zhou, Biruh T. Workeneh, Sandhya V. Maddali, Bijan Najafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is highly prevalent among cancer survivors, which may have long-term effects on physical activity and quality of life. CRF is assessed by self-report or clinical observation, which may limit timely diagnosis and management. In this study, we examined the effect of CRF on mobility performance measured by a wearable pendant sensor. Methods This is a secondary analysis of a clinical trial evaluating the benefit of exercise in cancer survivors with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CRF status was classified based on a Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F) score ≤ 33. Among 28 patients (age = 65.7±9.8 years old, BMI = 26.9±4.1kg/m2, sex = 32.9% female) with database variables of interest, twenty-one subjects (75.9%) were classified as non-CRF. Mobility performance, including behavior (sedentary, light, and moderate to vigorous activity (MtV)), postures (sitting, standing, lying, and walking), and locomotion (e.g., steps, postural transitions) were measured using a validated pendant-sensor over 24-hours. Baseline psychosocial, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G), Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I), and motor-capacity assessments including gait (habitual speed, fast speed, and dual-task speed) and static balance were also performed. Results Both groups had similar baseline clinical and psychosocial characteristics, except for bodymass index (BMI), FACT-G, FACIT-F, and FES-I (p<0.050). The groups did not differ on motor-capacity. However, the majority of mobility performance parameters were different between groups with large to very large effect size, Cohen's d ranging from 0.91 to 1.59. Among assessed mobility performance, the largest effect sizes were observed for sedentary- behavior (d = 1.59, p = 0.006), light-activity (d = 1.48, p = 0.009), and duration of sitting+lying (d = 1.46, p = 0.016). The largest correlations between mobility performance and FACIT-F were observed for sitting+lying (rho = -0.67, p<0.001) and the number of steps per day (rho = 0.60, p = 0.001). Conclusion The results of this study suggest that sensor-based mobility performance monitoring could be considered as a potential digital biomarker for CRF assessment. Future studies warrant evaluating utilization of mobility performance to track changes in CRF over time, response to CRF-related interventions, and earlier detection of CRF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0246101
JournalPloS one
Issue number2 Febuary
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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