Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Nursing & Healthcare Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Dawn Farrell

Second Advisor

Dr. Anna-Marie Greaney


Background: Fatigue is a common and burdensome symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Although many symptoms of IBD can be debilitating, fatigue is reported to be the most burdensome. It is experienced by up to 86% of people in active disease and 41-48% in remission and impacts greatly on all aspects of people’s lives. Fatigue is an invisible symptom and can often be overlooked by healthcare professionals. Since it is invisible, it can only be made known to healthcare professionals if patients seek help for it. This study aims to explore the determinants of help-seeking behaviour for fatigue in IBD and examine why some people with IBD fatigue are more likely to seek help than others.

Method: An exploratory qualitative method was employed, underpinned by the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). A voluntary sample of 12 participants was recruited from the Irish Society of Crohn’s and Colitis. It included people who had and who had not sought help for IBD fatigue. Semistructured interviews were conducted using an interview guide. Themes were uncovered using content analysis.

Results: Themes uncovered included symptom perception, impact of IBD fatigue and sources of help. Perceived lack of interventions, poor knowledge of help and IBD fatigue being regarded as an inferior symptom to other symptoms emerged as important factors influencing help-seeking behaviour. Barriers, such as time and cost, made help-seeking more challenging but did not prevent it. Impact on functional ability is often a precursor to help-seeking.

Conclusion: The TPB was found to be a useful framework to predict help-seeking behaviour for IBD fatigue. Symptom perception, impact of IBD fatigue and knowledge of help are the most influential aspects of help-seeking behaviour. IBD fatigue appears to lack the legitimacy of other IBD symptoms. Recommendations are made to increase help-seeking for IBD fatigue targeting these areas which have been identified as key to influencing help-seeking behaviour.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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