Psychosocial risk factors for chronic fatigue & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) following presumed

This study investigated psychosocial morbidity, coping styles and

health locus of control in 64 cases with and without chronic

fatigue identified from a cohort of primary care patients

recruited 6 months previously with a presumed, clinically

diagnosed viral illness. A significant association between

chronic fatigue and psychosocial morbidity, somatic symptoms

and escape-avoidance coping styles was shown. Chronic fatigue

cases were significantly more likely to have a past

psychiatric history and a current psychiatric diagnosis based

on a standardized clinical interview. Twenty-three of the

cases fulfilled criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Such cases were significantly more fatigued than those not

fulfilling criteria, but had little excess psychiatric

disorder. A principal components analysis provided some

evidence for chronic fatigue being separable from general

psychosocial morbidity but not from the tendency to have

other somatic complaints. Past psychiatric history and

psychological distress at the time of the viral illness were

risk factors for psychiatric ‘caseness’ 6 months later, while

presence of fatigue, psychologising attributional style and

sick certification were significant risk factors for CFS.

These findings extend a previous questionnaire study of

predictors of chronic ‘post-viral’ fatigue.

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