Background: Fatigue is prevalent in hemodialysis patients who for survival follow a strict dialysis treatment regimen - dialysis and non-dialysis days. As a result, the daily activities, symptom burden, and clinical outcomes of hemodialysis patients vary significantly between dialysis and non-dialysis days. Fatigue is one of the most reported debilitating symptoms by hemodialysis patients with profound negative impact on their quality of life. Prior studies assessed fatigue during the preceding 7 or 30 days and did not discriminate fatigue characteristics between dialysis and non-dialysis days. We aimed to characterize and compare fatigue severity and fatigue interference with daily activities between dialysis and non-dialysis days.
Methods: Hemodialysis patients self-reported fatigue on consecutive dialysis and non-dialysis days using the 9-item Brief Fatigue Inventory. The differences in fatigue characteristics between dialysis and non-dialysis days were analyzed using one-way ANCOVA.
Results: Global fatigue burden was worse on a dialysis day compared to a non-dialysis day (P for all < 0.001). Age and education were associated with fatigue, but hemodialysis-related variables were not. A significant inverse association of physical activity with fatigue severity observed on non-dialysis day; there was also a negative association between the normalized protein catabolic rate and fatigue severity on both dialysis and non-dialysis days. The positive association of depression with fatigue severity and fatigue interference were consistent on both dialysis and non-dialysis days. None of these factors, however, explained differences in fatigue characteristics between dialysis and non-dialysis days.
Conclusions: Fatigue, measured in severity and interference, was more pronounced on a dialysis day relative to a non-dialysis day. These differences were not explained by age, sex, education, hemodialysis-related variables, habitual exercise, nutritional status, and or depression. The quantitative measures of fatigue characteristics may facilitate future interventional trials design and better fatigue management for hemodialysis patients.
Keywords: Dialysis day; Fatigue; Interference; Non-dialysis day; Severity.