A community-based study of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

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

community sample.

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.

MAIN OUTCOME

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

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