Dissecting the fatigue experience: A scoping review of fatigue definitions, dimensions, and measures in non-oncologic medical conditions

Ruel Billones, Josephine K. Liwang, Kierra Butler, Letitia Graves, Leorey N. Saligan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Introduction: Fatigue is a prevalent and potentially debilitating symptom that impacts the health-related quality-of-life of individuals diagnosed with acute and chronic medical conditions. Yet, its etiologic mechanism is not fully understood. Additionally, the assessment and determination of the clinical meaning of fatigue and its multidimensionality may vary by medical condition. Methods: A scoping literature review was conducted to investigate how fatigue is defined and measured, including its dimensions, in non-oncologic medical conditions. The PubMed database was searched using keywords. Results: Overall, 8376 articles were screened at the title/abstract levels, where 293 articles were chosen for full-text review that mentioned fatigue or included fatigue measures. The review of the full text excluded 246 articles that did not assess at least one fatigue dimension using validated questionnaires and clinical tests. The final set included 47 articles. Physical fatigue was the most assessed fatigue dimension and the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory was the most widely used questionnaire to assess fatigue in this review. Limitations: This review was limited by including only English-language publications and using PubMed as the sole database for the search. Conclusions: This review affirms that fatigue is a multidimensional construct, agnostic of medical condition, and that individual fatigue dimensions can be measured by validated clinical measures. Future research should focus on expanding the repertoire of clinical measures to assess specific fatigue dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100266
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical measure
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue assessment
  • Fatigue dimension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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