Objective: To examine the relationship between disease-related variables, leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), and mental health status with fatigue severity in patients with spondylarthropathy (SpA).
Methods: Sixty-six SpA patients completed questionnaires assessing disease activity (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index [BASDAI]), functional ability (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index), and health-related quality of life (Short Form 36). LTPA patterns, demographics, and disease-related data were obtained by interview. A clinical examination determined tender point count. Fatigue was assessed with the BASDAI fatigue item.
Results: The mean BASDAI fatigue score was 5.5 (SD=2.7) with 59% of the sample obtaining a score > or =5. Disease activity, functional disability, and worse mental health contributed to greater fatigue (R2=0.56). The relationship between exercise duration and fatigue intensity was moderated by mental health status. For patients with poorer mental health scores, exercise did not influence fatigue severity. However, for patients reporting better mental health status, engaging in more LTPA decreased fatigue severity.
Conclusion: In addition to increased disease activity and functional disability, greater fatigue severity in SpA is associated with poorer mental health status. Integrating regular leisure physical activity into the comprehensive treatment of SpA may be useful for modulating fatigue.