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Usefulness of multiple dimensions of fatigue in fibromyalgia

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By Anna Ericsson, et al. • • July 7, 2013


Objectives: To explore in which contexts ratings of multiple dimensions of fatigue are useful in fibromyalgia, and to compare multidimensional fatigue between women with fibromyalgia and healthy women.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Subjects and methods: The Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20), comprising 5 subscales of fatigue, was compared with the 1-dimensional subscale of fatigue from the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) in 133 women with fibromyalgia (mean age 46 years; standard deviation 8.6), in association with socio-demographic and health-related aspects and analyses of explanatory variables of severe fatigue. The patients were also compared with 158 healthy women (mean age 45 years; standard deviation 9.1) for scores on MFI-20 and FIQ fatigue.


  • The MFI-20 was associated with employment, physical activity and walking capacity (rs = -0.27 to -0.36), while FIQ fatigue was not.

  • MFI-20 and FIQ fatigue were equally associated with pain, sleep, depression and anxiety (rs = 0.32-0.63).

  • Regression analyses showed that the MFI-20 increased the explained variance (R2) for the models of pain intensity, sleep, depression and anxiety, by between 7 and 29 percentage points, compared with if FIQ fatigue alone was included in the models.

  • Women with fibromyalgia rated their fatigue higher than healthy women for all subscales of the MFI-20 and the FIQ fatigue (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Dimensions of fatigue, assessed by the MFI-20, appear to be valuable in studies of employment, pain intensity, sleep, distress and physical function in women with fibromyalgia. The patients reported higher levels on all fatigue dimensions in comparison with healthy women.

Source: Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, June 24, 2013. By Anna Ericsson, Tomas Bremell, and Kaisa Mannerkorpi. Dept of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

fatigue in FM
Posted by: IanH
Jul 7, 2013
I have always thought that fatigue is under-evaluated in FM because the pain is the focal symptom. This is also why many people diagnosed with FM are later diagnosed with ME/CFS.

When you suffer from FM it isn't easy to separate the pain from the fatigue. Also, severe fatigue feels painful.
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