Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Comparison of Psychometric Measures of Fatigue

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Comparison of Psychometric Measures of Fatigue

Article excerpt

Many psychometric instruments have been developed to measure various components of fatigue. In this study the factor structure of the scales included in nine psychometric instruments developed to measure different components of fatigue were investigated. One hundred and thirty-four research participants completed the nine instruments in groups of approximately 30 each. Factor analysis of the scores obtained on these scales yielded a twofactor solution with 11 scales loading 0.40 or greater on the first factor and 10 scales loading 0.40 or greater on the second factor. These two factors, Distress-Fatigue and Vigor, accounted for 48 percent of the total variance and approximated simple structure. The results reveal that the different psychometric measures of fatigue are really measuring only two different factors rather than the many different factors specified by the different instruments.

Fatigue is a phenomenon that is experienced by most, if not all, individuals and is accepted as a normal part of everyday life. However, a substantial number of individuals complain of persistent tiredness or listlessness. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (National Center for Health Statistics, 1978), fatigue is the seventh most frequent initial complaint in U.S. medical offices. Studies on fatigue in primary care show that prevalence rates vary between 7 and 45 percent (Lewis & Wessely, 1992). Epidemiological studies conducted in the United States have revealed that between 14 and 41 percent of individuals report being fatigued (Chen, 1986; Manu et al., 1989). Feelings of fatigue are prevalent among individuals with physical or emotional illness such as individuals with depression, cancer, heart disease, gynecological disorders, and of course, chronic fatigue syndrome (Kroenke et al., 1988; Krupp, LaRocca, Muir-Nash, & Steinberg, 1989; Sugarman & Berg, 1984).

During the past decade there have been a number of attempts to develop psychometrically sound instruments that will provide a quantitative index of the subjective state of fatigue. These have consisted of both unidimensional (e.g., Krupp et al., 1989) and multidimensional (e.g., Schwartz, Jandorf, & Krupp, 1993) instruments. The implication, particularly of the multidimensional instruments, is that there are different dimensions of fatigue. However, the different dimensions supposedly assessed are characterized differently. For example, the instrument developed by Schwartz et al. identified four different dimensions consisting of fatigue severity, situation-specific fatigue, consequences of fatigue, and responsiveness of fatigue to rest/sleep. Chalder et al. (1993) developed an instrument which measured the two dimensions of physical and mental fatigue. There is, however, some evidence to suggest that the unidimensional measures of fatigue are as good at measuring fatigue as are the multidimensional measures. Given the numerous measures of fatigue and the different dimensions they supposedly measure, it would be important to know what similarities and differences exist among the different measures of fatigue. The present study was conducted to identify the factor structure of nine different measures of fatigue.



The research participants were 81 female and 53 male undergraduate students enrolled in an undergraduate introductory psychology course. The participants ranged from 18-54 years of age with 81% of the participants being 18-25 years of age. Participants completed the study in groups of approximately 30 each.


Nine psychometric inventories specifically developed to measure fatigue were selected for assessment in this study. The Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI; Smets, Garssen, Bronke, & DeHaes, 1995) is a 20-item self-report instrument consisting of five scales: General Fatigue, Physical Fatigue, Reduced Activity, Reduced Motivation, and Mental Fatigue. …

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