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Women Health. 2000;30(4):121-36.

Patient factors related to the presentation of fatigue complaints: results from a women's general health care practice.

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Department of Health Organisation, Policy and Economics at Maastricht University.


The aim of this study was to examine which patient-related factors predicted: (1) fatigue, (2) the intention to discuss fatigue and (3) the actual discussion of fatigue during consultation with a GP in a women's general health care practice. Patients were asked to complete two questionnaires: one before and one after consultation. The patient-related factors included: social-demographic characteristics; fatigue characteristics; absence of cognitive representations of fatigue; nature of the requests for consultation; and other complaints. Some 74% of the 155 respondents reported fatigue. Compared to the patients that were not fatigued, the fatigued patients were more frequently employed outside the home, had higher levels of general fatigue, and a higher need for emotional support from their doctor. A minority (12%) intended to discuss fatigue during consultation. Of the respondents returning the second questionnaire (n = 107), 22% reported actually discussing their fatigue with the GP while only 11% had intended to do so. In addition to the intention to discuss fatigue during consultation, the following variables related to actually discussing fatigue: living alone, caring for young children, higher levels of general fatigue, absence of cognitions with regard to the duration of the fatigue, and greater psychological, neurological, digestive, and/or musculoskeletal problems as the reason for consultation. Fatigue was found to be the single reason for consultation in only one case. It is concluded that fatigue does not constitute a serious problem for most patients and that discussion of fatigue with the GP tends to depend on the occurrence of other psychological or physical problems and the patient's social context.

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