Objective: To compare self-reported fatigue in adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with age and sex matched healthy controls without RA and to determine the relationships of fatigue to pain, sleep, functional status, depressive symptoms, and disease activity.
Methods: A sample of 51 patients with RA and 46 age and sex matched controls without RA completed self-administered questionnaires 3 times at 6-8 week intervals. Questionnaires included the Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue scale, Sleep Survey, Health Assessment Questionnaire, and the Profile of Mood States. Patients had blood drawn for hematocrit (Hct) and C-reactive protein on the same day the questionnaires were completed.
Results: Fatigue scores were significantly higher in persons with RA compared to healthy controls. Fatigue did not change significantly in either group over time. Fatigue was strongly associated with poor sleep, functional disability, greater pain, more depressive symptoms, and lower Hct.
Conclusion: The importance of assessing fatigue in RA is confirmed. Effective management is needed to control clinical manifestations of RA that were found to be strongly associated with fatigue such as poor sleep, functional disability, pain, depressive symptoms, and lower Hct.