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Physiother Theory Pract. 2017 Jan;33(1):31-40. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2016.1247933. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

Tiredness and fatigue during processes of illness and recovery: A qualitative study of women recovered from fibromyalgia syndrome.

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a Faculty of Medicine , Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo , Blindern , Oslo , Norway.


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a chronic musculoskeletal pain condition, is often accompanied by fatigue. In this study, inspired by narrative approaches to health and illness, we explore how women who have regained their health after FMS describe tiredness along a storyline from before they fell ill, through their illness, recovery process, and present-day health. The data derive from qualitative interviews with eight Norwegian women who previously suffered from FMS but who no longer had the condition at the time of interview. We undertook a narrative analysis to understand the complexity of the stories about tiredness and fatigue and on this basis identified a storyline based on four sub-narratives: 1) Alarming but ignored tiredness (before illness); 2) paralyzing fatigue (during illness); 3) making sense of fatigue (recovery process); and 4) integrating tiredness into life (today). The findings highlight participants' different understandings and meanings of tiredness and fatigue and the ways in which these link past, present, and future. Significantly, a clear distinction between tiredness and fatigue was not always found. Overall, the storyline that emerges from the narratives is about balancing tiredness/fatigue with everyday life, and how this unfolds in different ways across the span of FMS, from falling ill to recovering and regaining health.


Fatigue/tiredness; fibromyalgia syndrome; narrative analysis; qualitative interviews; recovery

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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