Women with Parkinson's Disease are at increased risk of fatigue

illustration photoThis is shown in a collaborative study between Ullevål University Hospital, Akershus University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Fatigue is a subjective experience, and is very common in a variety of disorders. As many as 15-20 per cent of the general population report having fatigue, i.e. a feeling of tiredness, exhaustion and decreased energy level, muscle strength and ability to think.

Over the last few years it has become increasingly clear that patients with Parkinson’s have a significant level of fatigue. Such symptoms may have more of an impact than motor symptoms on a patients’ quality of life.

Common problem in the population

The results suggest that fatigue is a common symptom for people with Parkinson’s.

“When we compare with the general population of same age, we find that more women with Parkinson’s also have fatigue. This does not mean that fatigue is not also an important problem for men with Parkinson’s, but it shows that fatigue is an important problem in the general population” said researcher Elisabeth Svensson at the Division of Mental Health at the NIPH.

Svensson adds that gender issues should be examined more closely, because few studies have reported this earlier.

The results of the study are discussed in the article “Fatigue in Parkinson’s disease: Prevalence and Associated Factors” in the journal Movement Disorders, with neurologist Antoine G. Beiske as the first author.

About the study

176 patients with Parkinson’s living in the eastern part of Akershus participated in the study. These are representative of Norwegian patients with Parkinson’s. Participants answered a structured interview, a short self-report form and underwent a clinical examination. Patients who could not manage to take part in such an interview were excluded from the study. Fatigue was studied using the Fatigue Questionnaire.

The research team consisted of professionals from Ullevål University Hospital and Akershus University Hospital with expertise in clinical practice and measurement of self-reported health and an epidemiologist from the Division of Mental Health at the NIPH.