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Exploring adult critical illness survivors’ experiences of fatigue: A qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Suzanne Bench, Wladzia Czuber-Dochan, Akshay Shah, L. Stayt

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4836-4846
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number12
Early online date7 Aug 2021
Accepted/In press22 Jul 2021
E-pub ahead of print7 Aug 2021
PublishedDec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to thank all the former ICU patients who took the time to participate in the study and Ayzah Khan, who assisted with data analysis. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


King's Authors


To explore adult experiences of fatigue after discharge from an intensive care unit and identify potential management strategies.

An exploratory qualitative study.

One to one audio-recorded semi-structured interviews with 17 adult survivors of critical illness in the United Kingdom, lasting up to 1 h, between September 2019 and January 2020. Anonymised and verbatim-transcribed interview data underwent a standard process of inductive thematic analysis as described by Braun and Clarke.

Three themes were identified: fatigue is different for everyone; complex interrelating interactions; and personalised fatigue strategies. Fatigue was described as a distressing symptom, unique to the individual that causes an array of complex, often long-term interrelating impacts on the survivor and their wider family, made worse by a lack of understanding, empathy and support resources. Support from others, alongside interventions such as exercise, good nutrition, information and alternative therapies are used by survivors with variable degrees of success.

This qualitative study reports peoples’ experiences of fatigue after critical illness. Findings highlight the significant impact it has on people's lives and those of their family and friends.

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