Sleep problems reported by hematological cancer patients are usually linked to higher levels of cancer-related fatigue. Although the awareness of sleep problems in solid cancer patients is rising, there has been less attention to the issue in hematological cancer patients. The present study assesses the differences in sleep by comparing physical activity and fatigue levels among hematological cancer patients during the onset of chemotherapy. Furthermore, it investigates the relationship between sleep, physical activity, and fatigue through mediation analysis.
The recruited sample consists of 58 newly diagnosed hematological cancer patients (47.1 ± 15.4 yrs; 51.7% males). Subjects completed questionnaires assessing sleep (PSQI), physical activity (visual analogue scale), fatigue (MFI-20), anxiety, depression (HADS), and quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30) within two weeks from starting treatment.
The sample reported more sleep problems in comparison to the German population norm. The classification as good (ca 25%) or bad sleepers (ca 75%) showed less frequent physical activity (p = .04), higher fatigue (p = .032), anxiety (p = .003), depression (p = .011) and pain (p = .011) in bad sleepers. The mediation analysis revealed significant indirect effects of sleep on fatigue through physical activity habits.
This study highlights the combined action of sleep problems and physical activity on fatigue during the onset of induction chemotherapy. These two parameters could represent meaningful intervention targets to improve a patient’s status during chemotherapy.
The study was registered on the WHO trial register (DRKS00007824).

© 2021. The Author(s).