A factor analysis of chronic fatigue symptoms in a community-based sample

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2002 Apr;37(4):183-9. doi: 10.1007/s001270200013.


Background: This study examined characteristics of fatigue in individuals with chronic fatigue from a community-based study. Most studies of chronic fatigue have been based on patients recruited from primary or tertiary care settings. Samples such as these might not be representative of patients within the general population. The purpose of this study was to determine the factor structure of participants' symptoms in a random community sample of individuals with chronic fatigue.

Method: A random sample of 18,675 respondents in Chicago received a brief telephone questionnaire designed to identify individuals with chronic fatigue. A group of 780 (4.2%) with chronic fatigue received further interview via telephone questionnaire involving characteristics of their fatigue. The analyses for this study were based on those people identified with having chronic fatigue. A factor analysis was conducted on responses to questionnaire items, and a four-factor solution emerged. Mean factor scores were derived and analyzed in relation to sociodemographic characteristics and sample subgroups.

Results: The four factors were labeled: Lack of Energy, Physical Exertion, Cognitive Functioning, and Fatigue and Rest.

Conclusions: Results indicated that individuals with chronic fatigue have symptoms that can be differentiated into theoretically distinct factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chicago
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / classification*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors