Effect of modafinil on fatigue, mood, and health-related quality of life in patients with narcolepsy

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Jan;171(2):133-9. doi: 10.1007/s00213-003-1508-9. Epub 2003 Nov 25.


Introduction: In addition to excessive sleepiness, patients with narcolepsy often have significant fatigue, depressed mood, and decreased quality of life.

Objective: To determine whether treatment with modafinil for excessive sleepiness improves fatigue, mood, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with narcolepsy.

Materials and methods: Outpatients with narcolepsy underwent a 14-day washout of psychostimulants and then were enrolled in this 6-week, open-label, multicenter study. Patients received modafinil starting at 200 mg once daily for week 1, and then 200 or 400 mg daily for weeks 2 through 6. Efficacy was evaluated using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). Safety was assessed by monitoring adverse events (AE).

Results: At baseline, 151 patients had moderate to severe excessive sleepiness (mean Epworth Sleepiness Scale score=17.8+/-4.4). Most patients (> or =70% of 123 who completed the study) received 400 mg modafinil once daily during weeks 2 through 6. Modafinil significantly improved HRQOL, based on SF-36 measures of mental and physical component summary scores and subdomain scores of role-physical, social functioning, and vitality (each P<0.001). Modafinil treatment was also associated with significantly reduced fatigue and significantly improved vigor and cognition as assessed by the POMS (each P<0.001) from weeks 1 through 6. The most frequent AE with modafinil treatment were headache, nausea, and insomnia; most AE were mild or moderate in nature. Only seven patients (5%) withdrew from the study because of AE.

Conclusion: In narcolepsy patients who were switched from psychostimulants, modafinil therapy improved HRQOL and subjective feelings of vigor and cognitive functioning and reduced fatigue.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Aged
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / adverse effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatigue / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Modafinil
  • Narcolepsy / drug therapy*
  • Narcolepsy / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wakefulness / drug effects


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Modafinil