Validating a measure of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome symptomatology

By Abigail A. Brown and Leonard A. Jason


Background: The diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is complex and largely based on self-reported symptom profiles. The field lacks consensus for a singular case definition and heterogeneous samples make comparability across studies difficult.

Purpose: The present study sought to validate a comprehensive self-report measure of ME/CFS symptomatology to aid in clinical and research assessment.

Methods: Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to establish the underlying factor structure of the DePaul Symptom Questionnaire (DSQ) using a well-characterized sample of individuals (92.6% met the Fukuda et al. criteria and/or the Clinical Canadian Criteria) and this structure was then tested on a less stringently recruited sample of individuals utilizing a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Convergent and discriminant validity of the DSQ were also examined utilizing alternative measures of symptomatology and functioning.

Results: A three-factor solution was found using EFA (Neuroendocrine, Autonomic, and Immune Symptoms; Neurological/Cognitive Dysfunction; Post-Exertional Malaise) and the fit of this factor structure was adequate for the second sample. The DSQ was found to have good convergent and discriminant validity.

Conclusions: The DSQ is a valid tool for assessing ME/CFS symptoms. There may be two core ME/CFS symptom clusters: post-exertional malaise and cognitive dysfunction.

Source: Abigail A. Brown and Leonard A. Jason. Validating a measure of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome symptomatology. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior Volume 2, Issue 3, 2014 DOI: 10.1080/21641846.2014.928014<br

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