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Biobehavioral Factors in Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

Joseph A. Roscoe, Gary R. Morrow, Jane T. Hickok, Karen M. Mustian, and Abhay R. Shelke

Although emesis can be considered a reflex to clear toxins from the body and involves mostly lower brain structures, nausea's purpose appears to be a warning signal to the individual to not engage in behaviors that he or she was doing at the time. As such, it involves the functioning of cognition and memory from higher developed neural structures. Given this, it should not be surprising that biobehavioral factors are important in predicting and controlling nausea. This article reviews the individual characteristics that are clinically useful in predicting which patients will have an increased probability of experiencing nausea or emesis during chemotherapy treatment, and also briefly review psychologic and biobehavioral treatments that can be useful in managing chemotherapy-related nausea.