Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 191–212 | Cite as

Systematic review of the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory-Short Form

  • Kristine A. DonovanEmail author
  • Kevin D. Stein
  • Morgan Lee
  • Corinne R. Leach
  • Onaedo Ilozumba
  • Paul B. Jacobsen
Review Article



Fatigue is a subjective complaint that is believed to be multifactorial in its etiology and multidimensional in its expression. Fatigue may be experienced by individuals in different dimensions as physical, mental, and emotional tiredness. The purposes of this study were to review and characterize the use of the 30-item Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory-Short Form (MFSI-SF) in published studies and to evaluate the available evidence for its psychometric properties.


A systematic review was conducted to identify published articles reporting results for the MFSI-SF. Data were analyzed to characterize internal consistency reliability of multi-item MFSI-SF scales and test-retest reliability. Correlation coefficients were summarized to characterize concurrent, convergent, and divergent validity. Standardized effect sizes were calculated to characterize the discriminative validity of the MFSI-SF and its sensitivity to change.


Seventy articles were identified. Sample sizes reported ranged from 10 to 529 and nearly half consisted exclusively of females. More than half the samples were composed of cancer patients; of those, 59 % were breast cancer patients. Mean alpha coefficients for MFSI-SF fatigue subscales ranged from 0.84 for physical fatigue to 0.93 for general fatigue. The MFSI-SF demonstrated moderate test-retest reliability in a small number of studies. Correlations with other fatigue and vitality measures were moderate to large in size and in the expected direction. The MFSI-SF fatigue subscales were positively correlated with measures of distress, depressive, and anxious symptoms. Effect sizes for discriminative validity ranged from medium to large, while effect sizes for sensitivity to change ranged from small to large.


Findings demonstrate the positive psychometric properties of the MFSI-SF, provide evidence for its usefulness in medically ill and nonmedically ill individuals, and support its use in future studies.


Fatigue Chronic illness Cancer Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory 


Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine A. Donovan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin D. Stein
    • 2
    • 3
  • Morgan Lee
    • 4
  • Corinne R. Leach
    • 2
    • 3
  • Onaedo Ilozumba
    • 3
  • Paul B. Jacobsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Outcomes and Behavior ProgramMoffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteTampaUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Research Center, Intramural Research DepartmentAmerican Cancer SocietyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health EducationEmory University Rollins School of Public HealthAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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