Associations Between Fatigue and Disability, Functional Mobility, Depression, and Quality of Life in People with Multiple Sclerosis

Int J MS Care. Mar-Apr 2016;18(2):71-7. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2015-013.


Background: Fatigue is a common symptom in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), but its associations with disability, functional mobility, depression, and quality of life (QOL) remain unclear. We aimed to determine the associations between different levels of fatigue and disability, functional mobility, depression, and physical and mental QOL in people with MS.

Methods: Eighty-nine individuals with MS (mean [SD] disease duration = 13.6 [9.8] years, mean [SD] Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] score = 5.3 [1.5]) and no concurrent relapses were retrospectively analyzed. Participants were divided into two groups based on five-item Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS-5) scores: group LF (n = 32, MFIS-5 score ≤10 [low levels of fatigue]) and group HF (n = 57, MFIS-5 score >10 [high levels of fatigue]).

Results: Sixty-four percent of the sample reported high levels of fatigue. Compared with group LF, group HF demonstrated significantly (P < .05) greater impairments in the Timed Up and Go test, Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale, and 12-item Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale scores; depression; and QOL but not in the EDSS scores, which were not significantly different between groups.

Conclusions: Fatigue was found to be a predominant symptom in the study participants. Individuals reporting higher levels of fatigue concomitantly exhibited greater impairments in functional mobility, depression, and physical and mental QOL. Disability was not found to be related to level of fatigue. These findings can be important for appropriate assessment and management of individuals with MS with fatigue.