Lack of Test to Detect the Illness Remains Greatest Barrier to Diagnosis
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Thirteen years after a group of
scientists coined the term chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to describe a
mysterious medical condition, many medical professionals are acknowledging it as a seriously disabling condition in need of treatment, concluded a survey released today by The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) Association of America.
Three-quarters of medical professionals responding to the survey believe
that CFS, also known as CFIDS, is as or more disabling than other chronic diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis. But despite the severe nature of the illness, diagnosis remains problematic. Half of the survey respondents cited the lack of a proven diagnostic test to be the greatest barrier to accurately identifying CFS. Thirty-five percent feel lack of a known cause of the illness is a barrier to diagnosis, and 31% feel there is not enough basic knowledge about CFS among the medical community.
Currently, health care practitioners are using a number of different
methods to diagnose CFS. Almost three-quarters (72%) rely on exclusion of other common causes for symptoms; 68% use a patient history; and 25% use laboratory tests. Practitioners also rely on documenting the presence of symptoms other than fatigue. When respondents were asked what one symptom other than fatigue made them more likely to suspect CFS, or without which they would not make a diagnosis, the most common answer was post-exertional malaise (incapacitating fatigue lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exertion).
Lack of basic knowledge among practitioners and the absence of a
diagnostic test means that more research and awareness of CFS is needed.
Seventy-seven percent of the medical professionals surveyed felt that the amount of available professional education about CFS is not adequate. In addition, a large majority of respondents (87%) indicated that there should be more funding for research on the illness.
“These survey findings confirm that CFS is increasingly recognized as a
serious, debilitating illness, and medical professionals still lack the core knowledge and tests they need to diagnosis CFS quickly and accurately,” stated Kim Kenney, President and Chief Executive Officer of The CFIDS Association of America. “Much has been learned about CFS, but it is now very apparent that there is still a great need for research and education in the medical community.”
The four-page survey was mailed to 8,100 medical professionals around the country, with a total of 865 completed surveys returned. The medical professionals polled came from a variety of disciplines including internal medicine, family/general practice, psychiatry/psychology, neurology, nursing and medical research.
About CFS (or CFIDS)
CFS is a serious and complex illness that affects many different body
systems. There is no known cause. It is characterized by incapacitating
fatigue (experienced as profound exhaustion and extremely poor stamina),
neurological problems and numerous other symptoms. CFS can be severely
debilitating and can last for many years. CFS is often misdiagnosed because it can resemble other disorders including mononucleosis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, post-polio syndrome, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
About The CFIDS Association of America
The CFIDS Association of America is the nation’s leading organization working to conquer CFS. Since 1987, the Association has invested nearly $12 million in education, public policy, and research programs in its efforts to bring an end to the suffering caused by the illness.
For more information on The CFIDS Association of America or CFS, please call 1-800-442-3437 or visit http://www.cfids.org. A copy of the survey and press materials is also available on the Web site.