Karin Olson, RN, PhD


Faculty of Nursing




  • PhD (Educational Psychology), University of Alberta (1990)
  • MHSc (Health Promotion), University of Toronto (1981)
  • BScN, University of Alberta (1976)


My research program has two dimensions: clinical research and qualitative methods development. My clinical research is focused on cancer-related fatigue and can be distinguished from others in symptom management by my focus on: fatigue as a stress response, similarities and differences in fatigue in various ill and non-ill populations, the social construction of symptom experience, relationships among fatigue and other symptoms, and the prevention and early detection of fatigue. I have defined fatigue as a marker for the inability to adapt to stressors. In the Edmonton Fatigue Framework, I have proposed that among individuals with cancer the stressors include disease processes and treatments that reduce adaptive capacity. My work on methods development research has examined how local research-related beliefs and values are reflected in research practices such as ethics review procedures and how these variations influence research outcomes. My other methods development research interests include external validity in qualitative research, and the use of structural equation modeling to study symptom clusters.


My clinical teaching is in chronic illness, with a focus on cancer and palliative care. I also teach undergraduate and graduate courses in research methods.

Scholarly Activities

Research - Canadian Cancer-related Fatigue Guidelines (2nd edition)

20150817 to 20160630

These guidelines provide recommendations for the sceening, assessment, and management of mild, moderate, and severe fatigue experienced by individuals with cancer. 

Canadian Cancer-related Fatigue Guidelines (version 2)


External validity, member checking and knowledge transfer

Author(s): Konradsen H, Kirkvold M, Olson K
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Advances in Nursing Science
Volume: 36
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: E66-E76

Understanding the meaning of fatigue at the end of life

Author(s): Kirshbaum M, Olson K, Pongthavarnkamol K, Graffigna G
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Journal of Oncology Nursing
Volume: 17
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 146-153

Understanding the nature of fatigue in patients with cancer: A cross cultural study between Thailand and Canada

Author(s): Pongthavornkamol K, Olson K, Soparatanapaisarn N, Chatchaisucha S, Kamkhon A, Potaros D, Kirshbaum M, Graffigna G
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Cancer Nursing
Volume: 35
Issue: 5
Page Numbers: E1-E9

Studying the social construction of cancer-related fatigue experience: the heuristic value of ethnoscience

Author(s): Graffigna G, Vegni E, Barelo S, Olson K, Bosio C
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Patient Education and Counseling
Volume: 82
Page Numbers: 402-409