Interventions for the management of fatigue in adults with a primary brain tumour

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Background: Fatigue is a common and disabling symptom in people with a primary brain tumour (PBT). The effectiveness of interventions for treating clinically significant levels of fatigue in this population is unclear. This is an updated version of the original Cochrane Review published in Issue 4, 2016. Objectives: To assess the effectiveness and safety of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for adults with PBT and clinically significant (or high levels) of fatigue. Search methods: For this updated review, we searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE and Embase, and checked the reference lists of included studies in April 2022. We also searched relevant conference proceedings, and for ongoing trials. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated any pharmacological or non-pharmacological intervention in adults with PBT and fatigue, where fatigue was the primary outcome measure. We restricted inclusion specifically to studies that enrolled only participants with clinically significant levels of fatigue to improve the clinical utility of the findings. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors (JD, DC) independently evaluated search results for the updated search. Two review authors (JD, SYK) extracted data from selected studies, and carried out a risk of bias assessment. We extracted data on fatigue, mood, cognition, quality of life and adverse events outcomes. Main results: The original review identified one study and this update identified a further two for inclusion. One study investigated the use of modafinil, one study the use of armodafinil and one study the use of dexamfetamine. We identified three ongoing studies. In the original review, the single eligible trial compared modafinil to placebo for 37 participants with a high- or low-grade PBT. One new study compared two doses of armodafinil (150 mg and 250 mg) to placebo for 297 people with a high-grade glioma. The second new study compared dexamfetamine sulfate to placebo for 46 participants with a low- or high-grade PBT. The evidence was uncertain for both modafinil and dexamfetamine regarding fatigue outcome measures, compared to controls, at study endpoint. Two trials did not reach the planned recruitment target and therefore may not, in practice, have been adequately powered to detect a difference. These trials were at a low risk of bias across most areas. There was an unclear risk of bias related to the use of mean imputation for one study because the investigators did not analyse the impact of imputation on the results and information regarding baseline characteristics and randomisation were not clear. The certainty of the evidence measured using GRADE was very low across all three studies. There was one identified study awaiting classification once data are available, which investigated the feasibility of 'health coaching' for people with a PBT experiencing fatigue. There were three ongoing studies that may be eligible for an update of this review, all investigating a non-pharmacological intervention for fatigue in people with PBT. Authors' conclusions: There is currently insufficient evidence to draw reliable and generalisable conclusions regarding potential effectiveness or harm of any pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatments for fatigue in people with PBT. More research is needed on how best to treat people with brain tumours with high fatigue.




Day, J., Yust-Katz, S., Cachia, D., Wefel, J., Tremont Lukats, I. W., Bulbeck, H., & Rooney, A. G. (2022, September 12). Interventions for the management of fatigue in adults with a primary brain tumour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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