Chronic fatigue is more prevalent in patients with inflammatory bowel disease than in healthy controls

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2011 Jul;17(7):1564-72. doi: 10.1002/ibd.21530. Epub 2010 Nov 8.


Background: Fatigue is a common symptom in chronic disease. Few studies, however, have focused on fatigue related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim was to determine the prevalence of fatigue in IBD and to identify demographic and clinical factors that influence fatigue.

Methods: Patients in remission and with mild and moderate IBD completed the Fatigue Questionnaire (FQ). Higher FQ scores indicate greater levels of fatigue. In addition, demographic and clinical variables were obtained. Corresponding FQ data from healthy controls (HC) are based on 2287 Norwegian citizens.

Results: In total, 140 patients were included, mean age 43.9 years (SD 16.4), male/female = 61/79, ulcerative colitis (UC) / Crohn's disease (CD) = 92/48. Total fatigue (TF) was 14.4, 14.7, and 12.2 for UC, CD, and HC, respectively. Chronic fatigue (CF), defined as substantial fatigue with duration more than 6 months, was reported in 29% (14/48) of CD and 22% (20/92) of UC compared to 11% (260/2287) of HC (P < 0.001 for both diagnoses). Linear regression analysis confirmed hemoglobin values, present gastrointestinal symptoms, and altered sleep to be the most important predictors of CF.

Conclusions: Chronic fatigue is more common in patients with UC and CD compared with healthy controls. IBD symptoms, hemoglobin values, and altered sleep patterns are significant predictors of CF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / epidemiology
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Remission Induction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult