Purpose/Objectives: To present a reconceptualization of fatigue.
Data Sources: Studies indexed in CINAHL®, MEDLINE®, PubMed, Psyc INFO, SPORTDiscus, and CancerLit from 1995-2004; studies included in the bibliographies of indexed articles; and five qualitative studies conducted by the author.
Data Synthesis: Tiredness and exhaustion are conceptually distinct from fatigue. All three concepts are located along an adaptational continuum in a manner consistent with stress theory.
Conclusions: Interventions should focus on the elimination or reduction of stressors and the increase of patients' resistance to stressors.
Implications for Nursing: Interventions that prevent or delay progression from tiredness to fatigue will be different from those that prevent or delay progression from fatigue to exhaustion.