PURPOSE: To compare descriptions of fatigue from interviews with elderly people with chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) and data recorded by nurses at an outpatient heart failure clinic. METHODS: Patients (N = 158) were screened for moderate to severe CHF and interviewed using a revised form of the Fatigue Interview Schedule (FIS). Seventy-nine of these patients were offered visits at a nurse-monitored heart failure clinic. Nursing documentation of fatigue in patient records (n = 56) at the heart failure clinic was compared to the patient interviews. FINDINGS: Results indicated poor concordance between patients' descriptions and record content concerning fatigue. Decreased libido was linked to fatigue according to the patients but not to the nurses' notes. Cognitive characteristics of fatigue were rarely recorded, but were more frequent in patient interviews. CONCLUSIONS: Nurses must recognize characteristics and factors related to fatigue in patients and develop strategies to help patients cope with their restricted ability in daily life. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Using the words and expressions of the patients and the diagnostic characteristics of fatigue in record-keeping can support the nurses understanding of patients living with CHF.