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The epidemiology of chronic fatigue in San Francisco

  [ 33 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Steele L, Dobbins JG, Fukuda K, Reyes M, Randall B, Koppelman M, Reeves WC • www.ProHealth.com • September 28, 1998


Despite considerable research on chronic fatigue syndrome
(CFS) and conditions associated with unexplained chronic
fatigue (CF), little is known about their prevalence and
demographic distribution in the population. The present study
describes the epidemiology and characteristics of
self-reported CF and related conditions in a diverse urban
community. The study used a cross-sectional telephone
screening survey of households in San Francisco, followed by
interviews with fatigued and nonfatigued residents.
Respondents who appeared to meet case definition criteria for
CFS, based on self-reported fatigue characteristics, symptoms,
and medical history, were classified as CFS- like cases.
Subjects who reported idiopathic chronic fatigue (ICF) that
did not meet CFS criteria were classified as ICF-like cases.
Screening interviews were completed for 8,004 households,
providing fatigue and demographic information for 16,970
residents. Unexplained CF was extremely rare among household
residents <18 years of age, but was reported by 2% of adult
respondents. A total of 33 adults (0.2% of the study
population) were classified as CFS-like cases and 259 (1.8%)
as ICF-like cases. Neither condition clustered within
households. CFS- and ICF-like illnesses were most prevalent
among women and persons with annual household incomes below
$40,000, and least prevalent among Asians. The prevalence of
CFS-like illness was elevated among African Americans, Native
Americans, and persons engaged in clerical occupations.
Although CFS-like cases were more severely ill than those with
ICF-like illness, a similar symptom pattern was observed in
both groups. In conclusion, conditions associated with
unexplained CF occur in all sociodemographic groups but appear
to be most prevalent among women, persons with lower income,
and some racial minorities.




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