The Fatigue Assessment Scale as a simple and reliable tool in systemic lupus erythematosus: a cross-sectional study

Arthritis Res Ther. 2019 Mar 25;21(1):80. doi: 10.1186/s13075-019-1864-4.


Background: The vast majority of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) complain about fatigue. They also report fatigue as one of their most debilitating symptoms. Yet, in clinical practice, fatigue is only rarely assessed and remains poorly understood. The purpose of this study is to validate the Fatigue Assessment Scale (FAS) and assess the impact of disease activity on fatigue in SLE.

Methods: A cross-sectional single-center study of patients was included in the Swiss SLE Cohort Study. The FAS and the Short Form 36 (SF-36) were administered to SLE patients and controls with primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS) and healthy volunteers (HV) attending our clinic. Disease activity in SLE was captured at the same time as patient-reported outcomes using the SLE Disease Activity Index score with the Safety of Estrogens in SLE National Assessment modification (SELENA-SLEDAI) and the physician's global assessment. We explored the internal consistency, reproducibility, construct validity, and convergence of the FAS, in comparison to the vitality subscale (VT) of the SF-36. We examined the association of FAS with demographics, disease type, SLE disease activity, and clinical features.

Results: Of the 73 SLE subjects, 89% were women and 77% were Caucasians. The median age was 43 years, and 23 (32%) patients had active SLE. Demographics in pSS and HV were similar. Within the SLE group, FAS displayed good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.93), unidimensionality, and test-retest reliability (ICC = 0.90). FAS and VT correlated well. The total FAS was highest in active SLE and pSS and higher in non-active SLE compared to HV.

Conclusion: The FAS is a promising tool to measure fatigue in SLE. Patients with SLE display a significantly higher level of fatigue than HV, which is even more pronounced in active disease and comparable to fatigue levels measured in pSS.

Keywords: Disease activity; Fatigue Assessment Scale; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / diagnosis*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult