PURPOSE: Describe prevalence and severity of fatigue in children and adolescents with burns during six months after hospital discharge, identify potential explanatory variables, and examine the relationship with exercise capacity.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fatigue was assessed using the Pediatric-Quality-of-Life-Inventory-Multidimensional-Fatigue-Scale (PedsQL-MFS) at discharge, and six weeks, three-, and six months after discharge. PedsQL-MFS scores ≥1 SD below the age-group specific non-burned reference mean were considered to signify fatigue.
RESULTS: Twenty-two children and adolescents (13 boys/9 girls, age 6-18 years, with burns covering 2-34% of total body surface area) were included. The prevalence of fatigue decreased from 65% (11/17) at discharge to 28% (5/18) six months after discharge. At group level, fatigue severity decreased over time, reaching healthy reference values from six weeks after discharge and beyond. At individual level, the course of fatigue severity varied widely. Fatigue severity at six months after discharge could not be predicted by age, sex, or burn severity ( p = 0.51, p = 0.58, p = 0.95, respectively). The association with exercise capacity was weak ( r = 0.062-0.538).
CONCLUSIONS: More than a quarter of pediatric burn patients reported fatigue six months after discharge. Further research in larger populations is required, including also the impact of burn-related fatigue on daily functioning and quality of life. Trial registration number: OND1353942Implications for rehabilitationFatigue should be recognized as a potential consequence of (pediatric) burns, even several months post burnFatigue should be assessed regularly after discharge in all children and adolescents with burns, as it seems not possible to predict its severity from age, sex, or burn severity characteristicsThe weak association between exercise capacity and self-reported fatigue suggests that burn-related fatigue is not simply a consequence of a reduced exercise capacity.