What do we know about self-reported fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus?

Lupus. 2012 Apr;21(5):465-76. doi: 10.1177/0961203312436863. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Fatigue is one of the most complex and ill understood symptoms of chronic illness often reported as the number one complaint by patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of the literature on fatigue in SLE. A pool of 55 relevant articles was retrieved via electronic searches of six databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PsychINFO and PubMed. Fatigue in the studies reviewed was assessed by a range of self-report instruments, the content of which is varied. The results displayed a consensus on the high prevalence of fatigue in SLE, which is significantly higher when compared with controls. The aetiology of fatigue appears to be multifactorial. Disease activity is not always significantly associated with fatigue, in comparison with other secondary features of SLE and psychological variables. The literature is limited by the cross-sectional nature of most of the studies, which does not permit for any firm conclusion regarding the direction of causal relationships to be made. The high prevalence of fatigue in SLE emphasizes the need for further detailed prospective research to inform the understanding of its aetiology, course and management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Research Design*