Poststroke fatigue--a review

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009 Dec;38(6):928-49. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2009.04.028.


Although fatigue is a common complaint after stroke, relatively little is known about how poststroke fatigue is experienced and what its related factors are. An in-depth understanding is necessary to develop effective and patient-centered poststroke rehabilitation programs. This review was undertaken to provide a comprehensive synthesis of knowledge from the literature concerning the description, definition, and measurement of fatigue and its relationship to sociodemographic and clinical factors. A search in PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, and PsychInfo was performed using "stroke" or "cerebrovascular accident" as medical subject headings in combination with "fatigue" as a key word. Descriptions of fatigue revealed multiple dimensions of the phenomenon. Although no specific theoretical definition of fatigue as a poststroke condition was found, a case definition has recently been published to be used as a tool to determine the presence of fatigue in poststroke patients. Poststroke fatigue is most frequently measured by using the general fatigue scales such as the Fatigue Severity Scale and a Fatigue Visual Analogue Scale, as there is no scale developed to measure poststroke fatigue specifically. Age, sex, living conditions, and personality were associated with poststroke fatigue, albeit with some conflicting findings. Conflicting results also were found in the relationships between fatigue and stroke-related characteristics such as stroke location/type, the number of strokes, and neurological deficits. There is an indication that prestroke and poststroke fatigue are related. Possible antecedent components identified are personal factors, biomarkers, stroke characteristics, prestroke fatigue, and comorbidity. As knowledge regarding poststroke fatigue remains limited, there is a need to continue empirical research with various theoretical orientations.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Stroke / complications*