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Perceived fatigue is comparable between different disease groups

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Jones, Dr Janine Gray, Emerita Professor Julia Newton


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Background: Studies have established that levels of fatigue vary between different patient groups. It is less clear whether the nature, as opposed to severity of fatigue differs between groups. Objective: To examine descriptions of fatigue by patients with a range of chronic diseases and determine the relationship between symptom domains. Design: Retrospective review of Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS) data. Setting: Fatigue Research Group. Participants: Six hundred subjects in five chronic disease groups and one (n = 45) normal control group. Main outcome measures: Statistical analysis was performed to assess the effect of increasing fatigue and the overlap of FIS domain scores between disease groups by calculation of geometric means as proportions summed to 1 in each FIS domains, whilst controlling for total score. Results: Those with lower scores exhibit relatively higher physical scores than patients with higher total scores. In contrast, as total score increases, so does the proportion accounted for by the cognitive and psychosocial scores. This was not related to a threshold effect as the maximum total score of 40 in the physical domain was only achieved in three patients (<1%). Average domain proportions between patient groups did not vary to any degree among physical (0.30-0.39), cognitive (0.15-0.23) and psychosocial (0.42-0.47) domain proportions of the patient groups. Conclusion: Perceived fatigue is similar between patient groups. Increasing scores were not related to simply reaching the maximum threshold in the physical domain. Studies have confirmed a positive-structured approach to symptom management in one fatigue-associated chronic disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, leads to significant improvements in quality of life. We suggest that, with a similar approach, the same might be true in other chronic diseases where moderate fatigue is a significant problem. © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association of Physicians. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones DEJ, Gray JC, Newton J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: QJM: An International Journal of Medicine

Year: 2009

Volume: 102

Issue: 9

Pages: 617-624

ISSN (print): 1460-2725

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2393

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/qjmed/hcp091

PubMed id: 19633030


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