This study aims to assess the prevalence of fatigue among persons who have lived with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) for >20 years, and to compare the results with fatigue scores found among the general population (GP). Another objective was to study the association between fatigue and clinical variables, including mental health, among the study population.
A cross-sectional study.
Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital (SunRH), Norway.
All SCI survivors (n=237) admitted for rehabilitation at SunRH between 1961 and 1982 were asked to participate. Fatigue was measured with the Fatigue Questionnaire (FQ). Mental health was assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Linear regressions were used to examine those variables with the potential to contribute to fatigue.
A total of 153 persons responded to the FQ, and in 39 cases the scores were consistent with fatigue. Surprisingly, the prevalence of fatigue (total fatigue (TF)) did not differ between the study population and the norm. However, the results indicated statistically significantly higher score of physical fatigue (PF) and statistically significantly lower score of mental fatigue among the SCI group when compared with the GP. Higher fatigue scores were associated with fatigue-causing pharmaceuticals and with higher scores on the HADS-depression subscale.
The prevalence of fatigue was 25% among persons who had lived with SCI for >20 years, and similar to that in the GP. Our results point to medications and mental health aspects as possible contributors to PF severity in SCI.