Fatigue Following Burn Injury: A Burn Model System National Database Study
Fatigue is a commonly reported but not well-documented symptom following burn injury. This study’s objective was to determine the frequency and severity of fatigue over time and to identify predictors of fatigue in the adult burn population. Data from the Burn Model System National Database (April 1997 to January 2006) were analyzed. Individuals over 18 years of age who were alive at discharge were included. The vitality subscale of the Short-Form 36 Item Health Survey was examined at preinjury and discharge and at 6, 12, and 24 months postinjury. Mean and number of low vitality scores were calculated at each time interval. Descriptive statistics were generated for demographic and medical data. Cross-sectional regression models analyzed predictors of vitality at 6, 12, and 24 months postinjury. The study included 945 subjects. The population was 72.5% male and had a mean age of 40.6 years and mean burn size of 17.4%. Fatigue symptoms were present in a majority of the population (74.6%) and were most commonly reported at discharge. Although fewer burn survivors reported fatigue symptoms at each subsequent follow-up (P < .001), approximately one-half (49%) of the population continued to report fatigue symptoms at 24 months postinjury. Larger burn size was the only variable that was significant or approaching significance at all follow-up time points (P < .0167). Fatigue symptoms are common after burns and many burn survivors continue to report symptoms at 2 years postinjury. Burn survivors did not return to preinjury fatigue levels, highlighting the importance of understanding and monitoring fatigue.