Systematic review: fatigue in inflammatory bowel disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Jul;32(2):131-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04347.x. Epub 2010 May 6.


Background: Fatigue is common, disabling yet underappreciated, in patients with chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Aims: To examine the literature and determine the prevalence and patterns of fatigue in IBD patients, to identify opportunities and directions for future research in this area.

Methods: A systematic review using PubMed and Ovid Medline databases was conducted using search terms 'fatigue', 'Crohn', 'colitis' and 'inflammatory bowel disease'. A review of fatigue in other similar chronic diseases was also performed.

Results: Ten studies were found to include data on fatigue in IBD patients; all were conducted between 1999 and 2009. However, only one study (in children) measured fatigue in IBD patients as a primary outcome. In patients in remission, the prevalence of fatigue in IBD patients ranges from 41 to 48%. Data are sparse and conflicting on whether fatigue severity is proportional to disease severity/activity.

Conclusions: Despite the clinical reality of fatigue, there are few published studies examining fatigue in IBD as a primary outcome. More data are needed on the prevalence, correlation between disease activity and fatigue severity, and putative pathogenic pathways involved in fatigue pathogenesis, before ultimately elucidating targeted therapies for fatigue in IBD patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Prevalence