Correlates of somatic causal attributions in primary care patients with fatigue

Researchers in the field of chronic fatigue in tertiary care found
that patients' somatic (e.g. viral) explanations for their
condition may lead to chronicity of symptoms. We studied the
influence of a somatic attributional bias on outcome and
reported symptoms in primary care patients with fatigue. We
compared fatigue scores on a specific scale, and number of
presented symptoms, in two groups of primary care patients
with 'functional' fatigue: 75 with a high score on the somatic
subscale of the Fatigue Attribution Scale (S-FAS), and 95 with
a low score on the S-FAS. At the index visit, patients with
low and high scores on the S-FAS were not different for age,
sex, fatigue scores, and levels of depressive symptoms.

Patients with high scores on the S-FAS presented significantly
more somatic and psychological symptoms-a total of 36 symptoms
for 24 patients (25.3%) in the low-score group, and a total of
52 symptoms for 31 patients (41.3%) in the high-score group.
Forty-two days later, at the follow-up visit, the fatigue
scores were similar in both groups. In primary care patients
with fatigue not due to somatic illness or major depression,
the tendency to attribute fatigue to somatic causes is not
associated with a worse outcome, but with a higher number of
reported symptoms.

Cathebras P, Jacquin L, le Gal M, Fayol C, Bouchou K, Rousset H

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