Although fatigue is common in end-stage liver disease and can even contribute to the need for a liver transplant, few studies have been conducted on fatigue after liver transplants take place. In the current study, researchers led by Rita van den Berg-Emons, Ph.D. of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, assessed 96 liver transplant patients who visited the hospital's outpatient clinic.

The results showed that 66 percent of the patients were fatigued, 44 percent were severely fatigued, and there was no indication that fatigue lessened over time. "This is the first study to provide information on both the severity and nature of fatigue after liver transplantation, and on factors associated with the severity of fatigue," the authors note. As with a previous study, the patients experienced physical fatigue and reduced activity rather than mental fatigue and reduced motivation. "These findings imply that fatigue after liver transplantation might be reduced with rehabilitation programs focusing on improving activity patterns and physical fitness," the authors state.

They found a weak relationship between severity of fatigue and gender and age (women experienced more fatigue) and a stronger relationship between self-assessed disabilities and HRQoL. This may be because fatigue may lead to an inactive lifestyle which in turn may lead to an impaired quality of life. Neither the condition necessitating the transplant nor the number of immunosuppressive agents was associated with the severity of fatigue, the study found.

The authors conclude: "These findings imply that rehabilitation programs, focusing on improving activity patterns and physical fitness, may reduce complaints of fatigue after liver transplantation. However, the effect of rehabilitation on fatigue has to be established in future research."

MEDICA.de; Source: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.