Association of catastrophizing and fatigue: A systematic review

Nada Lukkahatai, Leorey N. Saligan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective: Catastrophizing is an exaggerated negative evaluation and attention to specific symptoms such as pain or fatigue. A number of studies consistently support the significant role of catastrophizing in pain. However, the role of catastrophizing in fatigue is less frequently investigated. This article provides a critical review of published studies investigating this association. Methods: Using the keyword "Fatigue AND Catastrophizing", we performed a search in PubMed, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, and EMBASE. Results: Fourteen studies were reviewed and all except one were found to provide empirical support for an association between high catastrophizing and high fatigue. Most of these reviewed articles also show the large impact of catastrophizing on fatigue severity. Two longitudinal studies found that fatigue catastrophizing level before cancer treatment is a significant predictor of post-treatment fatigue. Studies also demonstrated that persons who had higher scores for catastrophizing recalled fatigue more accurately than those with lower scores. Conclusion: In spite the differences of its definition and the measurements used, a similar significant association between catastrophizing and fatigue was reported. Because this observation was based on 14 studies with limited types of patients, further studies are recommended to examine the role of catastrophizing in fatigue from other clinical populations and to investigate its utility as a behavioral marker for central fatigue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Catastrophizing
  • Chronic fatigue syndromes
  • Coping
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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