BACKGROUND: Most previous estimates of the prevalence of
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have derived largely from
treated populations, and have been biased by differential
access to health care treatment linked with sex, ethnic
identification, and socioeconomic status.
OBJECTIVE: To assess
the point prevalence of CFS in an ethnically diverse random
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: A sample of 28,673
adults in Chicago, Ill, was screened by telephone, and those
with CFS-like symptoms were medically evaluated.
MEASURES AND ANALYSES: Self-report questionnaires, psychiatric
evaluations, and complete medical examinations with laboratory
testing were used to diagnose patients with CFS. Univariate
and multivariate statistical techniques were used to delineate
the overall rate of CFS in this population, and its relative
prevalence was subcategorized by sex, ethnic identification,
age, and socioeconomic status.
RESULTS: There was a 65.1%
completion rate for the telephone interviews during the first
phase of the study. Findings indicated that CFS occurs in
about 0.42% (95% confidence interval, 0.29%-0.56%) of this
random community-based sample. The highest levels of CFS were
consistently found among women, minority groups, and persons
with lower levels of education and occupational status.
CONCLUSIONS: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a common chronic
health condition, especially for women, occurring across
ethnic groups. Earlier findings suggesting that CFS is a
syndrome primarily affecting white, middle-class patients were
not supported by our findings.
Jason LA, Richman JA, Rademaker AW, Jordan KM, Plioplys AV, Taylor