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Fatigue in children with long-term conditions: an evolutionary concept analysis

Publication year
McCabe, M.

AIM: This paper is a report of a concept analysis of fatigue in children with long-term conditions. BACKGROUND: There is little research focused on the experience of fatigue in children. Previous work has focused primarily on children living with cancer. It is necessary to clarify and refine the concept, and add to the knowledge base that supports ongoing theoretical work in order to improve the clinical care of children with long-term conditions who experience fatigue. METHOD: English language literature published from 1989 to 2007 was searched using the CINAHL, Medline and PsychINFO data bases. Sixty-two papers and two book chapters were used in this concept analysis. Rodgers’ method of evolutionary concept analysis was used. This inductive method helps us to view the concept in a sociocultural and temporal context. FINDINGS: The number of publications focusing on fatigue in children is increasing. The analysis yielded two surrogate terms, five attributes, three antecedents and seven consequences. Based on this analysis, fatigue in children with long-term conditions appears to be a subjective experience of tiredness or exhaustion that is multidimensional and includes physical, mental, and emotional aspects. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence suggesting children with long-term conditions experience fatigue is increasing, but conceptual gaps remain. This analysis has yielded a view of fatigue in children that illustrates healthcare professionals’ limited yet growing awareness of the symptom. Ongoing study as a means to refine our understanding of the concept could potentially lead to important contributions to clinical care of children with long-term conditions.

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