Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): a clinical & laboratory study with a well matched control group

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OBJECTIVE. To investigate the relation between severity of
complaints, laboratory data and psychological parameters in
patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

SUBJECTS.
Eighty-eight patients with CFS and 77 healthy controls matched
for age, sex and geographical area.

METHODS. Patients and
controls visited our outpatient clinic for a detailed medical
history, physical examination and psychological tests:
Checklist Individual Strength (CIS). Beck Depression Inventory
(BDI) and Sickness Impact Profile (SIP). Venous blood was
drawn for a complete blood cell count, serum chemistry panel,
C-reactive protein and serological tests on a panel of
infectious agents.

RESULTS. All patients fulfilled the
criteria for CFS as described by Sharpe et al. (J R Soc Med
1991; 84: 118-21), only 18 patients (20.5%) fulfilled the CDC
criteria. The outcome of serum chemistry tests and
haematological tests were within the normal range. No
significant differences were found in the outcome of
serological tests. Compared to controls, significant
differences were found in the results on the CIS, the BDI, and
the SIP. These results varied with the number of complaints
(CDC criteria). When the number of complaints was included as
the covariate in the analysis, there were no significant
differences on fatigue severity, depression, and functional
impairment between patients who fulfilled the CDC criteria and
patients who did not.

CONCLUSION. It is concluded that the
psychological parameters of fatigue severity, depression and
functional impairment are related to the clinical severity of
the illness. Because the extensive panel of laboratory tests
applied in this study did not discriminate between patients
and controls, it was not possible to investigate a possible
relation between the outcomes of psychological and laboratory
testing.

Swanink CM, Vercoulen JH, Bleijenberg G, Fennis JF, Galama JM, van
der Meer JW

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