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General practitioners' beliefs, attitudes & reported actions towards Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  [ 113 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 5, 2000

OBJECTIVE: To undertake a survey of Australian general practitioners (GPs) to explore their beliefs, attitudes and reported actions with respect to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

METHOD: A random sample of 2090 Australian GPs, stratified by state, was surveyed in May-August 1995.

RESULTS: A 77% response rate was obtained. For the majority of practitioners who pursue a diagnosis of CFS, six symptoms were considered to be of significance: chronic unremitting fatigue for over 6 months; failure to recover energy after rest; reduced exercise tolerance; prostration for several days after exercise; generalised myalgia and poor concentration. Individual counselling was the most frequently used treatment. Thirty-one percent of practitioners reported that they did not believe that CFS is a distinct syndrome. Of these, 70% reported that the most likely cause of chronic fatigue was depression.

CONCLUSION: There is considerable diversity of opinion between practitioners about CFS. The diversity extends from questioning whether the syndrome even exists to different strategies for diagnosis and management.

Steven ID, McGrath B, Qureshi F, Wong C, Chern I, Pearn-Rowe B

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