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Exploratory Analysis of the Relationships between Aerobic Capacity and Self Reported Fatigue




PM R. 2009 Jul;1(7):620-8.


Exploratory Analysis of the Relationships between Aerobic Capacity and Self-Reported Fatigue in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Polymyositis, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


Weinstein AA, Drinkard BM, Diao G, Furst G, Dale JK, Straus SE, Gerber LH. Center for the Study of Chronic Illness and Disability, 4400 University Drive, MSN 5B7, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030(dagger).



OBJECTIVE: To determine if self-reported levels of physical activity and fatigue are related to peak oxygen uptake (VO(2peak)) and whether these relationships differ among the patient groups (rheumatoid arthritis [RA], polymyositis [PM], and chronic fatigue syndrome [CFS]).


DESIGN: Correlational investigation.


SETTING: Two ambulatory research clinics at the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD.


PARTICIPANTS: There were 9 patients with PM, 10 with RA, and 10 with CFS. All patients met case criteria for their respective diagnoses.


METHODS/MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: VO(2peak) during bicycle ergometry and self-reported fatigability, fatigue, and physical activity. VO(2peak) was used as the criterion measurement of physiological fatigue with which the self-reported variables were compared.


RESULTS: The Pearson r revealed that self-reported physical activity correlated with VO(2peak) (r = 61, P = .01). However, fatigability and fatigue did not correlate with VO(2peak). Linear regression analysis was performed to assess the effects of diagnosis group, self-reported activity level or fatigue, and their interaction. A trend in the data showed a distinctive relationship between fatigue/fatigability within the 3 groups. In addition, when controlling for group status, self-reported activity predicted aerobic capacity as measured by VO(2peak).


CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that patients with chronic, but stable RA, PM, or CFS are fatigued and have significantly decreased aerobic capacity. Self-reports of physical activity predicted VO(2peak), and may be used as an indicator of activity-based aerobic capacity. Self-reports of fatigue, however, did not correlate with VO(2peak) and hence are assessing something other than an index of aerobic capacity, and provide additional information about patients' perceptions, which will require further investigation.


PMID: 19627955 [PubMed - in process]



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