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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2012 Aug;24(4):324-30. doi: 10.3275/8054. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

A preliminary study of symptomatic fatigue in rural older adults.

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School of Nursing, West Liberty University, West Liberty, WV, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of symptomatic fatigue and its relation to physical function and self-perceived health in a sample of older, rural community-dwelling adults with commonly-used clinical fatigue scales.


This is an exploratory, descriptive study of 30 subjects from 4 rural counties. All subjects were 70+ years of age and had no recent history of hospitalization. Subjects were assessed in their homes and completed a standard test of physical function, twelve functional assessment instruments, and two commonly-used clinical fatigue scales: the Fatigue Severity Scale and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue Scale.


Depending on the fatigue instrument and criteria used, 23-47% of subjects exhibited symptomatic fatigue. Regardless of the scale, fatigue was associated with several negative consequences: decreased physical function performance, lower morale, and reduced physical composite scores on the Short Form-36 quality of life questionnaire. Of note, these differences remained significant even after accounting for depression scale scores. In addition, fatigue was associated with a greater incidence of risk for malnutrition.


Together, these findings suggest that symptomatic fatigue may be quite prevalent in older individuals in rural settings, and warrants further consideration when presented in the clinical setting, as it may be associated with several negative health outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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