Is fatigue a disease-specific or generic symptom in chronic medical conditions?

Juliane Menting, Cees J Tack, Gijs Bleijenberg, Rogier Donders, Hal A Droogleever Fortuyn, Jaap Fransen, Martine M Goedendorp, Joke S Kalkman, Riet Strik-Albers, Nens van Alfen, Sieberen P van der Werf, Nicol C Voermans, Baziel G van Engelen, Hans Knoop

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Severe fatigue is highly prevalent in various chronic diseases. Disease-specific fatigue models have been developed, but it is possible that fatigue-related factors in these models are similar across diseases. The purpose of the current study was to determine the amount of variance in fatigue severity explained by: (a) the specific disease, (b) factors associated with fatigue across different chronic diseases (transdiagnostic factors), and (c) the interactions between these factors and specific diseases.

METHOD: Data from 15 studies that included 1696 patients with common chronic diseases and disorders that cause long-term disabilities were analyzed. Linear regression analysis with the generalized least-squares technique was used to determine fatigue-related factors associated with fatigue severity, that is, demographic variables, health-related symptoms and psychosocial variables.

RESULTS: Type of chronic disease explained 11% of the variance noted in fatigue severity. The explained variance increased to 55% when the transdiagnostic factors were added to the model. These factors were female sex, age, motivational and concentration problems, pain, sleep disturbances, physical functioning, reduced activity and lower self-efficacy concerning fatigue. The predicted variance increased to 61% when interaction terms were added. Analysis of the interactions revealed that the relationship between fatigue severity and relevant predictors mainly differed in strength, not in direction.

CONCLUSIONS: Fatigue severity can largely be explained by transdiagnostic factors; the associations vary between chronic diseases in strength and significance. This suggests that severely fatigued patients with different chronic diseases can probably benefit from a transdiagnostic fatigue-approach which focuses on individual patient needs rather than a specific disease. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-543
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Chronic Disease/psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue/psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged

Cite this

Menting, J., Tack, C. J., Bleijenberg, G., Donders, R., Droogleever Fortuyn, H. A., Fransen, J., ... Knoop, H. (2018). Is fatigue a disease-specific or generic symptom in chronic medical conditions? Health Psychology, 37(6), 530-543. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000598