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Risk Factors for Severe ME/CFS – Source: Biology and Medicine, Oct-Dec 2009

  [ 29 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Derek Pheby, Lisa Saffron • • January 4, 2010

[Note: to read the full text of this article, click here. The research was funded by The ME Association's Ramsay Research Fund.]

ME/CFS is a serious illness affecting several hundred thousand British people. Some 25% of people with ME/CFS may be severely ill (housebound or bedbound), sometimes for decades.

This observational, questionnaire-based study was designed to identify risk factors for severe disease. Exposure to potential risk factors, including familial risks, personality, and early management of the illness, was compared in 124 people with severe disease and 619 mildly ill controls.

Severity was determined by self-report and the Barthel (activities of daily living) Index.

Premorbid personality was assessed using the Neuroticism and Conscientiousness domains of the IPIP scale. Analysis was by tests of association and logistic regression.

• Early management of the illness appeared the most important determinant of severity.

• Having a mother with ME/CFS was also important.

• Smoking and personality were not risk factors, neurotic traits being more frequent among the less severely ill.

• Conscientiousness overall was not related to severity.

Source: Biology and Medicine, Oct-Dec 2009. Vol 1 (4): pp 50-74. Pheby D, Saffron L. Buckinghamshire New University and National ME Observatory, Harnham, Salisbury, Wilts.; University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. [E-mail:]

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