Fatigue in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy: a qualitative study of people’s experiences

Karen Schipper, Minne Bakker, Tineke Abma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this article is to describe how fatigue affects the lives of people with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD), how they experience fatigue, and how they deal with it in order to attune rehabilitation care to patients’ needs. Method: A qualitative study, consisting of 25 semistructured interviews with patients with FSHD and severe fatigue (as measured with the checklist individual strength (CIS) fatigue questionnaire), was conducted to gain insight into the experiences of patients with fatigue. Data were inductively analyzed. Results: Patients describe fatigue as an overwhelming and unpredictable experience and they make a distinction between actual experienced fatigue and fear of becoming tired. Fatigue can, according to patients, be the result of weak muscles, physical overachieving or underachieving and stress. But most of the time patients do not know the actual causes of the fatigue, which makes it hard to deal with. The experienced fatigue has a large impact on participation, social contacts, and the quality of life of patients, and patients try to use many strategies to adapt themselves to the constantly changing situations. Conclusions: Fatigue is a severe problem in FSHD and has a huge impact on patients’ lives. Patients should be helped to reduce fatigue, for instance by offering evidence-based therapies such as aerobic exercise training or cognitive behavioral therapy.Implications for Rehabilitation Fatigue has significant influence on the quality of lives and participation of people with FSHD. Patients with FSHD are insufficient supported in coping with their fatigue. More attention for fatigue in patients with FSHD in rehabilitation is needed, for instance by a broader implementation of aerobic exercise training or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1840-1846
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and rehabilitation
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2017


  • FSHD
  • impact
  • patients
  • perspectives
  • quality of life
  • tiredness

Cite this