Fatigue in patients with inflammatory bowel disease in Eastern China

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Mar 21;27(11):1076-1089. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i11.1076.


Background: Fatigue is a very common but relatively neglected problem in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The prevalence rate of IBD in China is the highest in Asia, but there is little research on fatigue in patients with IBD. Neither the relationship between fatigue and quality of life (QoL) nor the relationship between fatigue and work productivity (WP) in Chinese IBD patients has been reported.

Aim: To investigate the prevalence of fatigue related to IBD in Eastern China, to identify the risk factors associated with fatigue, to assess the impact of fatigue on QoL, and to evaluate the relationship between fatigue and WP.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a Regional Tertiary IBD Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Eastern China. Clinical data of patients were collected, and disease activity was evaluated. Blood samples were analyzed to assess anemia, albumin, and inflammation. Fatigue was assessed using the multidimensional fatigue inventory. QoL and WP were measured using the short inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire and the work productivity and activity impairment general health questionnaire, respectively. The patients also completed assessments of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item Scale).

Results: A total of 311 IBD patients, comprising 168 Crohn's disease patients and 143 ulcerative colitis patients, were enrolled. The prevalence of fatigue in patients with IBD was 60.77%. In a univariate logistic regression analysis, factors such as disease activity, depression, anxiety, anemia, and IBD-related surgery were individually related to a significantly increased risk of fatigue in IBD patients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that depression [odds ratio (OR) = 8.078, 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.113-15.865], anxiety (OR = 2.373, 95%CI: 1.100-5.119), anemia (OR = 2.498, 95%CI: 1.290-4.834), and IBD-related surgery (OR = 2.035, 95%CI: 1.084-3.819) were related to fatigue in IBD patients. There was a negative correlation between fatigue and QoL (r = -0.831; P < 0.0001) but a positive correlation between fatigue and WP loss.

Conclusion: The prevalence of fatigue in IBD patients in Eastern China is remarkably high even in clinical remission. Factors such as depression, anxiety, anemia, and IBD-related surgery are major risk factors for fatigue in IBD patients. In addition, fatigue has a negative impact on QoL and is positively correlated with WP loss.

Keywords: Eastern China; Fatigue; Inflammatory bowel disease; Quality of life; Risk factors; Work productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / complications
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires