Cognitive effects of chemotherapy: an integrative review

Shaw, Carli and Baldwin, Adele and Anderson, Carina ORCID: (2021) Cognitive effects of chemotherapy: an integrative review. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 54 (2021):102042. ISSN 1462-3889


Purpose: An estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) were diagnosed worldwide in 2020. Despite a rising incidence of cancers worldwide, in developed countries with strong healthcare systems, survival rates are improving as a result of early detection, improved treatments and survivorship care (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2021). Whilst living longer, cancer survivors are often living with side effects of treatment, including chemotherapy related cognitive impairment, often termed 'chemobrain'.

Method: An integrative review of contemporary literature answering the research question how does chemotherapy affect cognitive function? was undertaken utilising three computerised databases CINAHL, Medline and PUBMED, between 2015 and 2021. Data was thematically analysed to identify themes within published literature.

Results: Thematic analysis identified four broad themes within the literature regarding chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment. Identified themes included; cognition as part of a complex scenario, proof of existence and searching for the cause, learning to play the game and timing of cognitive impairment.

Conclusions: Aggressive treatment with chemotherapy in the adjuvant setting has drastically improved the survival of cancer patients. Subsequent to aggressive treatments, side effects such as cognitive impairment have presented, which may persist in the long term. Despite the exact aetiology of chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment being largely unknown, the consequences of the condition are impacting cancer survivors and their quality of life.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 43893
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jan 2015 - )
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jan 2015 - )
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2021 00:24
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2022 04:27
Uncontrolled Keywords: cancer survivor; chemobrain; chemotherapy; cognition; integrative review; quality of life
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1110 Nursing > 111003 Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420503 Community and primary care
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420501 Acute care
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920102 Cancer and Related Disorders
Identification Number or DOI:

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only