A systematic comparison of fatigue levels in systemic sclerosis with general population, cancer and rheumatic disease samples

Brett D. Thombs, M. Bassel, L. Mcguire, M. T. Smith, M. Hudson, J. A. Haythornthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Objectives. There are no studies of fatigue levels in patients with SSc. The objective of this study was to compare fatigue in SSc to general population samples and patients with rheumatic diseases and cancer, where fatigue has been researched extensively. Methods. SSc patients completed the General Fatigue Index (GFI) of the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory. A systematic review was conducted to select comparison samples. Mean GFI scores from SSc patients were compared with mean scores from comparison samples with t -tests and Bonferroni corrections (family-wise P < 0.05). Results. A total of 106 SSc patients were sampled (97 females; 28 diffuse SSc; 11.9 ± 7.9 yrs since diagnosis). Based on comparisons from the systematic review, mean GFI scores in SSc (13.3 ± 4.6) were significantly higher (greater fatigue; P < 0.05) than in two large population samples (8.7 and 9.6) and than in two samples of cancer patients in remission (9.4 and 10.0). Scores for the SSc sample were significantly lower (less fatigue) compared with two samples of cancer patients in palliative care (16.8 and 17.0). SSc GFI scores were similar to scores from patients with RA (13.4), AS (13.0) and SLE (13.1) and to scores from six studies of cancer patients in active treatment (11.1-13.5). Conclusions. The high levels of fatigue reported in SSc were similar to patients with varying types and treatment stages of cancer and patients with other rheumatic diseases when assessed with the GFI, demonstrating that fatigue warrants greater attention in SSc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1563
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 6 2008



  • Fatigue
  • Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory
  • Systematic review
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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