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The Chronic Fatigue Twin Registry: method of construction, composition, & zygosity assignment

  [ 47 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • September 10, 1999

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the symptom of chronic fatigue are conditions of unknown etiology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define CFS as an illness characterized by or = 6 months of disabling fatigue associated with muscle pain, pharyngitis, and alterations in mood, sleep and neurocognition. We constructed a registry of twins with chronic fatigue to facilitate research on the impact of illness, the associated medical and psychosocial factors, and the heterogeneous proposed mechanisms for these conditions. We have recruited 204 twin pairs in which one or both members reported persistent fatigue through patient support group newsletters (60%), clinicians/researchers familiar with CFS (12%), notices placed on electronic bulletin boards for CFS (11%), twin organizations and researchers (6%), relatives and friends (3%) and other sources (8%). Complete data are available for 177 pairs (87%). Twins completed an extensive questionnaire booklet that included measures of physical and mental health, functional status, and psychosocial factors; a structured psychiatric interview was also conducted by telephone. Twins were classified using three increasingly more stringent diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue: 1) or = 6 months of fatigue (115 discordant and 61 concordant pairs); 2) chronic fatigue with additional symptoms and application of the medial exclusions of the CDC CFS case definition as obtained by self-report (92 discordant and 41 concordant pairs) and; 3) chronic fatigue with additional symptoms unexplained by self-reported medical conditions and psychiatric diagnoses as determined by the structured interview (69 discordant pairs and 25 concordant pairs). Despite the limitations of a volunteer registry, the Chronic Fatigue Twin Registry promises to be an important resource for research on CFS and chronic fatigue.

Buchwald D, Herrell R, Ashton S, Belcourt M, Schmaling K, Goldberg J

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