Background Experienced fatigue is an under-recognized and under-researched feature in persons with many different rare diseases. A better overview of the characteristics of existing research on experienced fatigue in children and adults with rare diseases is needed. The purpose of this review was to map and describe characteristics of existing research on experienced fatigue in a selection of rare diseases in rare developmental defects or anomalies during embryogenesis and rare genetic diseases. Furthermore, to identify research gaps and point to research agendas. Methods We applied a scoping review methodology, and performed a systematic search in March 2020 in bibliographic databases. References were sorted and evaluated for inclusion using EndNote and Rayyan. Data were extracted on the main research questions concerning characteristics of research on experienced fatigue (definition and focus on fatigue, study populations, research questions investigated and methods used). Results This review included 215 articles on ten different rare developmental defects/anomalies during embryogenesis and 35 rare genetic diseases. Of the 215 articles, 82 had investigation of experienced fatigue as primary aim or outcome. Included were 9 secondary research articles (reviews) and 206 primary research articles. A minority of articles included children. There were large differences in the number of studies in different diseases. Only 29 of 215 articles gave a description of how they defined the concept of experienced fatigue. The most common research-question reported on was prevalence and/ -or associations to fatigue. The least common was diagnostics (development or validation of fatigue assessment methods for a specific patient group). A large variety of methods were used to investigate experienced fatigue, impeding comparisons both within and across diagnoses. Conclusion This scoping review on the characteristics of fatigue research in rare diseases found a large variety of research on experienced fatigue. However, the minority of studies had investigation of experienced fatigue as a primary aim. There was large variation in how experienced fatigue was defined and also in how it was measured, both within and across diagnoses. More research on experienced fatigue is needed, both in children and adults with rare diseases. This review offers a basis for further research.
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