Fatigue rating scales: an empirical comparison

Psychol Med. 2000 Jul;30(4):849-56. doi: 10.1017/s0033291799002500.


Background: There has been limited research comparing the efficacy of different fatigue rating scales for use with individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This investigation explored relationships between two commonly-used fatigue rating scales in CFS research, the Fatigue Scale and the Fatigue Severity Scale. Theoretically, these scales have been described as measuring different aspects of the fatigue construct. The Fatigue Scale was developed as a measure of the severity of specific fatigue-related symptoms, while the Fatigue Severity Scale was designed to assess functional outcomes related to fatigue.

Methods: Associations of these scales with the eight definitional symptoms of CFS and with eight domains of functional disability were examined separately in: (1) an overall sample of individuals with a wide range of fatigue severity and symptomatology; (2) a subsample of individuals with CFS-like symptomatology, and, (3) a subsample of healthy controls.

Results: Findings revealed that both scales are appropriate and useful measures of fatigue-related symptomatology and disability within a general population of individuals with varying levels of fatigue. However, the Fatigue Severity Scale appears to represent a more accurate and comprehensive measure of fatigue-related severity, symptomatology, and functional disability for individuals with CFS-like symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States