Hypochondriasis influences quality-of-life outcomes in patients with chronic fatigue

BACKGROUND: To determine how hypochondriacal symptoms influence the
quality-of-life outcomes of patients with a chief complaint of
chronic fatigue.

METHODS: Cross-sectional cohort study of a
consecutive sample of 71 patients (mean duration of fatigue of
4.1 years). Forty-eight (68%) patients met criteria for
current major depression and 32 (45%) met [1992] criteria for
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). All patients received a
comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation.
Quality-of-life and physical, depressive and hypochondriacal
symptom scores were assessed through reliable self-report
questionnaires and a structured interview. A path model
expressing the relation between predictor variables
(hypochondriasis and depression), intervening variables
(physical symptoms) and quality of life was postulated and
evaluated using structural equation methods.

paths linking hypochondriasis with physical symptoms and
mental health and the path connecting physical symptoms and
quality of life were each statistically significant. The model
applied especially well to patients who fulfilled CFS

CONCLUSIONS: The quality of life of chronic fatigue
patients correlates with the severity of their physical
symptoms and their hypochondriacal disposition toward illness.

Manu P, Affleck G, Tennen H, Morse PA, Escobar JI

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