Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic disease and major cause of disability. COPD may be considered a systemic disease, which causes an array of symptoms, one of which is the subjective sensation of fatigue. In recent years, COPD-related fatigue (COPD-RF) has increasingly been recognised as an important area of research. The aim of this paper is to comprehensively review the literature concerning this topic and to summarise existing knowledge on the subjective perception of fatigue in people with COPD. This paper provides a narrative review of literature in this area. The search used the electronic databases of OVID MEDLINE and EMBASE included original studies from 1980 to December 2011. The databases were searched using the key MeSH terms COPD and Fatigue.
In total 40 relevant publications were identified. This literature review covers the following areas identified by research studies: fatigue in COPD in comparison with healthy older people, gender differences, patients’ experience of fatigue, prevalence of fatigue reporting in COPD, pattern and frequency of fatigue in COPD, the impact of fatigue on an individual’s life, predictors of fatigue, coping and treatment strategies for the management of fatigue. Furthermore, this review identifies areas for further research and makes recommendations for clinical practice.