Assessment of fatigue in chronic disease: A bibliographic study of fatigue measurement scales

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A large number of fatigue scales exist and there is no consensus on which fatigue measuring scales that are most appropriate for use in assessment of fatigue in different diseases. We aimed to describe the use of fatigue scales in studies of disease-related fatigue during the last three decades. We searched databases from 1975 to 2004 for original studies reporting on disease-related fatigue and extracted information on method used to assess fatigue, diseases under study and year of publication. A total of 2285 papers reported measures of fatigue in chronic non-acute diseases of which 80% were published during the last decade. We identified 252 different ways to measure fatigue, of which 150 were use only once. Multi-symptom scales (n = 156) were used in 670 studies, while 71 scales specifically designed to measure fatigue were applied in 416 studies. The majority of these studies used scales with a multidimensional approach to fatigue, and most studies used scales that were disease-specific or only applied to few different diseases. Research in disease-related fatigue has increased exponentially during the last three decades, even if we adjust for the general increase in publishing activity. The number of scales has also increased and the majority of scales were developed for specific diseases. There is need for measure instruments with different sizes and dimensionality, and due to ceiling and floor effects, the same scale may not be useful for patients with different severity of fatigue. However, since fatigue is an unspecific symptom there should not be need for adopting disease specific fatigue scales for each individual disease. There may be differences in characteristics of fatigue between diseases and generic measurement instruments may facilitate documentation of such differences, which may be of clinical importance. © 2007 Hjollund et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Hjollund, N. H., Andersen, J. H., & Bech, P. (2007). Assessment of fatigue in chronic disease: A bibliographic study of fatigue measurement scales. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.

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