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Assessment of fatigue in patients with COPD participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program : a feasibility study



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Fatigue is a distressing, complex, and multidimensional sensation, that is common in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and impacts negatively on their functioning and quality of life. Limited research has been conducted to examine how various factors may influence the different dimensions of subjective fatigue experienced in these individuals. Four dimensions of subjective fatigue including: emotional, behavioural, cognitive, and physical, were examined in a convenience sample of 42 participants with COPD who attended an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program. The primary purpose of this feasibility study was to determine the proportion of individuals experiencing the four dimensions of fatigue, and to examine the relationships between these dimensions of fatigue and various influencing factors (dyspnea, depression, anxiety, sleep quality, activity limitation, heart rate, and oxygen saturation). The secondary purpose was to compare the four dimensions of fatigue by sex, supplemental oxygen use, smoking status, and severity of dyspnea, and to examine the relationships between the four dimensions of fatigue and age, the number of co-morbidities, and the amount of pulmonary rehabilitation received. Self-report questionnaires were used to measure fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory – MFI), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale – HADS), and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index – PSQI). Pulmonary rehabilitation health records were accessed to collect data on the remaining variables. The majority of the participants (61.9% - 81.0%) experienced moderate levels of subjective fatigue in all four dimensions. Moderate to severe levels of physical fatigue were experienced in 95.3% of the participants. The only significant relationship was between anxiety and emotional fatigue; all other relationships were statistically insignificant. There were no significant differences between sex, supplemental oxygen use, smoking status, and severity of dyspnea on the four dimensions of subjective fatigue. Many of the participants had probable presence of clinical anxiety (42.9%), where the prevalence of anxiety was nearly twice as high as depression (21.4%). Findings from this study can be used by healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of fatigue in individuals with COPD who attend pulmonary rehabilitation, and help in developing effective interventions for reducing the distressing effects of fatigue.



PSQI, Fatigue, COPD, HADS, 6MWT, Depression, MRC Dyspnea Scale, Anxiety, Sleep Quality, Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Activity Limitation, MFI



Master of Nursing (M.N.)


College of Nursing


College of Nursing


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