Fatigue in patients with diabetes: a review

J Psychosom Res. 2010 Jul;69(1):33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.01.021. Epub 2010 Mar 23.


Objective: Fatigue is a common and distressing complaint among people with diabetes and likely to hinder the ability to perform daily diabetes self-management tasks. A review of the literature about diabetes-related fatigue was conducted with an eye toward creating a framework for beginning to conduct more focused studies on this subject.

Methods: A literature search containing the terms diabetes, fatigue, tiredness, and symptoms was conducted to search for literature that addressed diabetes-related fatigue.

Results: Diabetes presents many potential pathways for fatigue, but focused studies on this symptom are rare. Furthermore, research on diabetes-related fatigue is limited by fatigue's nonspecific symptoms and because fatigue researchers have yet to agree on standardized definition, measurement, or diagnostic criteria. Additionally, few diabetes randomized clinical trials included measurement of patient-reported outcomes, such as symptoms or health-related quality of life in their study designs, although one that did provided some meaningful finding that symptom-focused education improved self-management practices, Hb(A1c) levels, quality of life, and symptom distress.

Conclusion: There is a need to standardize the definition, measurement, and diagnostic criteria of fatigue in diabetes. We present a model that can guide focused studies on fatigue in diabetes. The model capitalizes on the multidimensional phenomena (physiological, psychological, and lifestyle) associated with fatigue in diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Complications / blood
  • Diabetes Complications / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology*
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Sick Role*


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human