Fatigue in ambulatory AIDS patients

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Although preliminary reports indicate that fatigue is a common symptom of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, little empirical research has focused on its prevalence or characteristics among patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). We assessed the frequency of fatigue, and its medical and psychological correlates, in a cross-sectional survey of ambulatory AIDS patients. Ambulatory patients with AIDS who participated in a study of quality of life (N=427) were classified into fatigue/no fatigue groups based on their responses to fatigue items on the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS) and the AIDS physical symptom checklist. Self-report inventories were also administered to assess psychological distress, depressive symptoms, and overall quality of life. Medical information was elicited through clinical interview and review of medical chart. Fifty-four percent of the patients endorsed both of the fatigue items from the MSAS and the AIDS physical symptom checklists, and were classified as having fatigue. Women were significantly more likely to report fatigue than men (chi square = 5.28, df = 1, P < 0. 03), and patients reporting homosexual contact as their transmission risk factor were significantly less likely to report fatigue than were patients reporting injection drug use or heterosexual contact (chi square = 5.13, df = 2, P < 0.03). The presence of fatigue was significantly associated with the number of current AIDS-related physical symptoms [t(425) = 8.00, P < 0.0001], current treatment for HIV-related medical disorders (chi square = 12.51, df = 1, P < 0.0001), anemia [t(174) = -2.35, P < 0.02], and pain (chi square = 36.36, df= 1 P < 0.0001). Patients with fatigue also had significantly poorer physical functioning ability [Karnofsky: t(422) = - 6.27, P < 0.0001], as welt as greater degree of overall psychological distress and lower quality of life [F(5,418) = 23.79, P < 0.0001], as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Hopelessness Scale, Functional Living Inventory for Cancer (modified for AIDS), and the MSAS Psychological Distress Subscale. Fatigue is a common symptom in ambulatory AIDS patients and is associated with significant physical and psychological morbidity.

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Breitbart, W., McDonald, M. V., Rosenfeld, B., Monkman, N. D., & Passik, S. (1998). Fatigue in ambulatory AIDS patients. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 15(3), 159–167. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0885-3924(97)00260-1

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