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AIMS: To explore adult experiences of fatigue after discharge from an intensive care unit and identify potential management strategies. DESIGN: An exploratory qualitative study. METHODS: 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. FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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.

Original publication




Journal article


J Adv Nurs

Publication Date



critical illness, fatigue, nursing, qualitative research, rehabilitation