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Abstract: Childhood experiences of illness and parenting in adults with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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J Psychosom Res 2003 May;54(5):439-43

Fisher L, Chalder T.

Guy’s, King’s and St. Thomas’ School of Medicine, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Unit, King’s Denmark Hill Campus, New Medical School Building, SE5 9PJ, London, UK

OBJECTIVE: There are many similarities between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the somatoform disorders and problems otherwise known as “medically unexplained symptoms.” There is some evidence to suggest that a combination of inadequate parenting and early illness experience may predispose the individual to develop medically unexplained symptoms in adult life. The aim of this investigation was to compare the contributions of childhood experiences of illness and parenting in adults with CFS with a fracture clinic control group.

METHOD: A retrospective case control design was used. Thirty patients with a diagnosis of CFS and 30 patients attending a fracture clinic in an inner London teaching hospital completed questionnaires measuring parental care and protection and were interviewed about childhood experiences of illness.

RESULTS: There were no differences in childhood experience of illness in the two groups. However, logistic regression revealed that maternal overprotection and depression were associated with the diagnosis of CFS.

CONCLUSION: The findings may represent risk factors for the development of CFS in adult life. It is possible that maternal overprotection in particular is related to the formation of belief systems about avoiding activity that operate to adversely influence behaviour in patients with CFS.

PMID: 12726900 [PubMed – in process]

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