BACKGROUND: Fatigue is one of the most frequently reported symptoms by patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), both during active disease phases as well as during clinical remission. This study addressed whether different trajectories of fatigue over time can be identified among patients with IBD. Subsequently, we compared the demographic and clinical characteristics between trajectories.
METHODS: The current study included 849 patients with IBD diagnosed with either Crohn disease (CD; n = 511) or ulcerative colitis (UC; n = 338) who visited the University Medical Center in Groningen (the Netherlands) at least 3 times during a 9-year follow-up. We conducted latent class growth analyses to identify distinct trajectories.
RESULTS: In all patients with IBD (and in the subgroup with CD), we found 5 trajectories for fatigue. In the UC subgroup, we found 4 fatigue trajectories. One trajectory present in both patients with CD (11.45%) and patients with UC (4.75%) was characterized by chronic elevated levels of fatigue across time. Women and parents were more prevalent in trajectories with higher fatigue severity. We also found significant associations among the fatigue trajectories with disease activity and psychological well-being.
CONCLUSIONS: The results clearly showed the existence of distinct fatigue paths over time in patients with IBD. Those reporting more chronic elevated levels of fatigue also reported greater disease activity and reduced well-being. Therefore, reducing disease activity may be important for the treatment of fatigue. In addition, given the significant association with well-being, it is possible that reducing fatigue may improve self-reported well-being.