The Measurement of Fatigue in Chronic Illness: A Systematic Review of Unidimensional and Multidimensional Fatigue Measures
Fatigue is a common symptom associated with a wide range of chronic diseases. A large number of instruments have been developed to measure fatigue. An assessment regarding the reliability, validity, and utility of fatigue measures is time-consuming for the clinician and researcher, and few reviews exist on which to draw such information. The aim of this article is to present a critical review of fatigue measures, the populations in which the scales have been used, and the extent to which the psychometric properties of each instrument have been evaluated to provide clinicians and researchers with information on which to base decisions. Seven databases were searched for all articles that measured fatigue and offered an insight into the psychometric properties of the scales used over the period 1980-2007. Criteria for judging the "ideal" measure were developed to encompass scale usability, clinical/research utility, and the robustness of psychometric properties. Twenty-two fatigue measures met the inclusion criteria and were evaluated. A further 17 measures met some of the criteria, but have not been tested beyond initial development, and are reviewed briefly at the end of the article. The review did not identify any instrument that met all the criteria of an ideal instrument. However, a small number of short instruments demonstrated good psychometric properties (Fatigue Severity Scale [FSS], Fatigue Impact Scale [FIS], and Brief Fatigue Inventory [BFI]), and three comprehensive instruments demonstrated the same (Fatigue Symptom Inventory [FSI], Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue [MAF], and Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory [MFSI]). Only four measures (BFI, FSS, FSI, and MAF) demonstrated the ability to detect change over time. The clinician and researcher also should consider the populations in which the scale has been used previously to assess its validity with their own patient group, and assess the content of a scale to ensure that the key qualitative aspects of fatigue of the population of interest are covered.
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