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Keywords:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • fatigue;
  • fatigue impact scale;
  • gender;
  • general population

Aims and objectives.  To examine gender differences in experiences of fatigue and functional limitations due to fatigue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a comparison group.

Background.  Fatigue is a major problem for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The prevalence rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in females is increasing and to our knowledge there are few studies reporting gender differences in one of their worst symptoms, fatigue and functional limitations due to fatigue.

Design.  This study has a descriptive cross-sectional design.

Methods.  Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 345) and a comparison group of the same gender and age from the same region as the patients (n = 245) answered mailed questions about the frequency, duration and severity of fatigue and the fatigue impact scale.

Results.  High frequency (≥20 days/month), long duration (≥6 hours/day) and great severity (one of my worst symptoms) of fatigue were experienced by 51%, 54% and 44% of the male patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively and 60%, 55% and 51% of the female patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively. The figures for the males from the comparison group were 14%, 24% and 17% and for the females 30%, 42% and 32%, respectively. There were no gender differences regarding fatigue (frequency, duration and severity) or functional limitations due to fatigue in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, while the differences between males and females from the comparison group were statistically significant for frequency and severity of fatigue as well as functional limitation due to fatigue.

Conclusion.  In the comparison group, there were gender differences regarding fatigue, as well as functional limitations due to fatigue. This was not observed in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease group.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results of this study suggest that nurses should not take for granted that female patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease experience more fatigue than men.