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29-08-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Article

Associations between fatigue and physical capacity in people moderately affected by rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology International

Authors: Ingrid Demmelmaier, Susanne Pettersson, Birgitta Nordgren, Alyssa B. Dufour, Christina H. Opava

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


To explore the contribution of physical capacity in explaining variations in fatigue among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study included participants recruited for a physical activity intervention. Data were collected from the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Registers, from questionnaires on fatigue, activity limitation, perceived health, pain and anxiety/depression and from physical capacity tests (lower limb function, grip strength, and aerobic capacity). We used logistic regression to estimate the association between severe fatigue (≥ 50, visual analogue scale 0–100) and (A) independent variables related to disease and disease impact and (B) model A plus physical capacity tests. Pooled odds ratio tests compared model fit. Out of the 269 participants (mean age 60 years, mean disease activity score [DAS28] 2.8), severe fatigue was reported by 35%. The three variables which were statistically significantly associated with severe fatigue (p < 0.05) in both models were perceived health, pain and anxiety/depression. Anxiety/depression demonstrated the largest effect size with odds ratios of 2.43 (95% CI 1.20, 4.94) in model A and 2.58 (95% CI 1.25, 5.32) in model B. The likelihood ratio test indicated that model B was a better fit to the data than model A with Χ2 (df 3) = 2.65, p = 0.048. Severe fatigue in people with RA is associated with self-rated health, pain and anxiety/depression rather than with physical capacity. Future studies should be prospective, use multidimensional assessments of fatigue to explore the influence of physical capacity and control for possible influence of comorbidities associated with fatigue.

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