Lower quality of life, especially in the physical domain (Physical-QOL), is common in patients after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). However, few studies explore changes in the Physical-QOL, i.e., physical symptoms, in everyday life of patients following HSCT. The present study addresses this gap by examining patient daily physical symptoms and their predictors in terms of demographic and clinical characteristics.
Physical symptoms were reported by 188 patients (56.9% men; aged 47.6 ± 13.4 years) for 28 consecutive days after post-HSCT hospital discharge. Multilevel modeling was used to investigate fixed and random effects for physical symptom changes over time.
The results indicated that the initial level of physical symptoms (immediately after hospital discharge) systematically decreased over 28 days. Treatment toxicity (WHO scale; β = 0.09, p < .01) and baseline depressive symptoms (CES-D scale; β = 0.06, p < .01) were associated with the initial level of physical symptoms. Patients with more depressive symptoms before HSCT and with more adverse treatment effects presented with more physical symptoms immediately after hospital discharge. The type of transplant, diagnosis, and conditioning regimen differentiated the course of physical symptoms. Patients with leukemias and other myeloid neoplasms ( β = 0.05, p < .01), after allogeneic HSCT ( β = −0.06, p < .01), and with non-myeloablative conditioning ( β = −0.09, p < .01) showed a significant lower decrease in symptoms over time. Patients with multiple myeloma presented with the most rapid improvement ( β = −.03, p < .05).