Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Researchers from Italy have published an intriguing survey on patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The survey revealed that patients with IBD have greater fatigue than healthy controls. Additionally, the relatively greater level of fatigue in IBD patients was linked with the symptoms of anxiety and the use of steroids.
This survey research was titled “Fatigue and Associated Factors in an Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease Population: A Cross-Sectional Study.” This study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. This study involved 39 patients with Crohn’s disease and 98 patients with ulcerative colitis.
Of the 137 IBD patients in this study, 75 (54.7%) reported fatigue versus 34.5% of healthy controls. The intensity of fatigue (average fatigue t-score of 52) was also significantly greater in IBD patients versus healthy controls (average fatigue t-score of 48). Thus, one in two IBD patients experienced fatigue in this study.
Interestingly, this study also had a third comparator group of 103 patients with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis. Notably, the fatigue intensity in IBD patients was not significantly different from that in patients with inflammatory arthritis (average fatigue t-score of 54). This indicates that fatigue levels in IBD are as high as in inflammatory arthritis.
Why This Study is Important
This study simultaneously used the rigorous scientific tools of PROMIS® fatigue, anxiety, and depression item banks to assess the IBD patients’ symptoms compared with healthy controls and inflammatory arthritis patients.
This study confirms the link between IBD and fatigue, which has been found in many earlier studies. Additionally, this study finds new links between fatigue and mood disorders. Therefore, this study recommends that patients with IBD, especially those with fatigue, should be treated comprehensively without overlooking these symptoms.
What Did This Study Conclude?
This study gives the main message that fatigue is an important symptom affecting the quality of life of every other IBD patient. The effect of fatigue in IBD is as severe as that in inflammatory arthritis conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis.
Moreover, fatigue is closely related to mood disorders. The relationship between fatigue and mood disorders needs more detailed study. Yet, IBD patients with fatigue may need to be evaluated for mood disorders by using a screening tool or a psychiatric referral.
Also, adequate management of IBD patients would include the management of fatigue as well. Holistic management is needed in patients with IBD who report fatigue and anxiety or depression that extends beyond the gastrointestinal system.
Iaquinta, F. S., Grembiale, R. D., Mauro, D., Pantano, I., Naty, S., Cosco, C., Iacono, D., Gaggiano, E., Ruggiero, A., Ciccia, F., Doldo, P., & Spagnuolo, R. (2022). Fatigue and Associated Factors in an Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease Population: A Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of clinical medicine, 11(9), 2455. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11092455