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Qual Health Res. 2015 Oct;25(10):1410-22. doi: 10.1177/1049732315573954. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

The Nature of Fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


In this article, we report the findings of our study on the nature of fatigue in patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Using ethnoscience as a design, we conducted a series of unstructured interviews and card sorts to learn more about how people with chronic fatigue syndrome describe fatigue. Participants (N = 14) described three distinct domains: tiredness, fatigue, and exhaustion. Most participants experienced tiredness prior to diagnosis, fatigue during daily life, and exhaustion after overexertion. We also discuss participants' ability to adapt to a variety of stressors and prevent shifts to exhaustion, and relate our findings to stress theory and other current research. Primary strategies that promoted adaptation to stressors included pacing and extended rest periods. These findings can aid health care professionals in detecting impending shifts between tiredness, fatigue, and exhaustion and in improving adaptive strategies, thereby improving quality of life.


coping and adaptation; ethnoscience; fatigue / exhaustion; illness and disease, experiences; stress / distress; theory development

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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