Objective: To determine the frequency and outcome of fatigue, its impact on functioning, and its relationship with depression in patients 3 to 13 months poststroke.
Participants: Eighty-eight individuals from a pool of 181 consecutive patients previously admitted to an acute stroke service who were willing and able to complete the self-report questionnaires, and 56 elderly controls living independently in the community.
Main outcome measures: Fatigue Impact Scale (a self-report measure of the presence and severity of fatigue and its impact on cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions) and the Geriatric Depression Scale.
Results: The frequency of self-reported fatigue problems was greater in the stroke group (68%) than in the control group (36%, p < .001) and was not related to time poststroke, stroke severity, or lesion location. Forty percent of the stroke group reported that fatigue was either their worst or one of their worst symptoms. Patients attributed more functional limitations to their fatigue than did control subjects with fatigue. Although the presence of fatigue was independent of depression, the impact of fatigue on functional abilities was strongly influenced by depression.
Conclusion: Fatigue can contribute to functional impairment up to 13 months after stroke, and its recognition and treatment are important for maximizing recovery.