Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between fatigue and physiological, psychological, and lifestyle phenomena in women with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in order to establish the magnitude and correlates of fatigue in women with T2DM and explore the interrelationships between fatigue and specific diabetes-related factors that may be associated with increased levels of fatigue. These factors included physiological factors (glucose control, diabetes symptoms), psychological factors (diabetes emotional distress, depressive symptoms in general), and lifestyle factors (body mass index, physical activity).
Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive design was used. Women who reported conditions known to cause fatigue were excluded. Physiological measures included fasting blood glucose (FBG), hemoglobin A1C (A1C), glucose variability, and body mass index (BMI). Women completed questionnaires about health, fatigue levels, diabetes symptoms, diabetes emotional distress, depressive symptoms, physical activity, and current diabetes self-care practices. A subset of the women wore a Medtronic Gold CGM sensor for 3 days for assessment of glucose variability.
Results: Eighty-three women aged 40 to 65 years with T2DM completed the study. Fatigue was significantly related to diabetes symptoms, diabetes emotional distress, depressive symptoms, higher BMI, and reduced physical activity. There was no relationship between fatigue and FBG or A1C. The strongest explanatory factors for fatigue were diabetes symptoms, depressive symptoms, and BMI, which accounted for 48% of the variance in fatigue scores. Glucose variability was not significantly associated with fatigue in these women.
Conclusions: Fatigue is a persistent clinical complaint among women with T2DM and may signal the presence of physiological, psychological, and lifestyle-related phenomena that could undermine diabetes health outcomes.