Relation between neuropsychological impairment & functional disability in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relation between neuropsychological
impairment and functional disability in patients with chronic
fatigue syndrome, and determine whether the relation is
independent of psychiatric factors.

METHODS: The subjects were
53 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 32 healthy
controls who did not exercise regularly. Subjects were
administered a structured psychiatric interview and completed
questionnaires focusing on depression and functional
disability. They also completed a battery of standardised
neuropsychological tasks focusing on the cognitive domains
that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome experience as
particularly difficult: memory (verbal and visual), and
attention/concentration. A test score was defined as failing
when it was > or =2 SD below the mean of the healthy controls
after controlling for demographic factors.

RESULTS: Those
patients with chronic fatigue syndrome with higher numbers of
failing neuropsychological test scores reported significantly
more days of general inactivity in the past month than those
with fewer failing scores. This result remained significant
even after partialling out the contribution of the presence of
a comorbid axis I psychiatric episode and the overall level of
depressive symptomology. Patients with failing verbal memory
scores were particularly functionally disabled compared with
those with passing scores.

CONCLUSION: A relation was found
between cognitive impairment and functional disability which
could not be explained entirely on the basis of psychiatric
factors.

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