The research, published online ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal this week, could be used by doctors to help reduce the number of admissions to hospital for people with COPD, which could lead to improvements in quality of life and a reduction in the economic impact of the disease.
The researchers assessed 83 people via a questionnaire about their feelings of fatigue. Using the results from the questionnaire, unit scores from 0-10 were generated showing participants’ experience of fatigue, with a higher score equating to greater fatigue. They also measured breathlessness and hospital records of the participants.
The results showed people reporting the most severe levels of fatigue were more likely to be hospitalised. Compared to the lowest third of patients, the third of patients reporting the most intense scores on fatigue impacts showed a 13.6-times increase in risk of hospitalisation within 20 months. The length of hospital stays also increased by almost 4 times for each unit increase in patients’ reports of fatigue experiences in the questionnaire.
The findings suggest that reported levels of fatigue are associated with the severity of COPD. The study also shows that fatigue is a strong predictor of hospitalisation for people with COPD.