Non-pharmacological interventions for fatigue in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Lily Y.W. Ho, Shamay S.M. Ng (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Non-pharmacological interventions are widely used to treat fatigue in clients with specific diseases but the findings may not be applicable to older adults experiencing fatigue, which also relates to the physiological changes of ageing. Non-pharmacological interventions for fatigue alleviation in older adults have not been reviewed and meta-analysed. Objective: To evaluate the immediate and long-term effects of non-pharmacological interventions on fatigue in community-dwelling older adults. Methods: Randomised controlled trials published from 2008 to May 2018 were searched in CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, PubMed and Web of Science databases. The reference lists of the publications, forward citation and clinical trial registries were also reviewed. Relevant data were extracted and meta-analysis was conducted using Cochrane Review Manager 5.3. Results: Eight studies, with a total of 1093 participants, were identified. Non-pharmacological interventions included mindfulness meditation, a behavioural lifestyle programme, muscle relaxation, pet insect-assisted therapy, yoga, Tai Chi and cognitive behavioural therapy. Non-pharmacological interventions elicited significant immediate positive effects on fatigue (SMD:-0.40, 95% CI-0.62 to-0.18), although there was no lasting effect. Both physical and cognitive/mental interventions effectively alleviated fatigue. Conclusion: Non-pharmacological interventions appear to be effective in alleviating fatigue at immediate post-intervention in community-dwelling older adults. More studies with robust designs and adequate sample sizes are needed in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • fatigue
  • meta-analysis
  • non-pharmacological interventions
  • older people
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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