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Life events, difficulties and dilemmas in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome: a case-control study

Hatcher, S. and House, A. (2003) Life events, difficulties and dilemmas in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome: a case-control study. Psychological Medicine, 33 (7). pp. 1185-1192. ISSN 0033-2917

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Abstract

Background. The role of stress in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome is unclear. Our objectives in this study were first, to determine the relation between the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome and stressful life events and difficulties. Secondly, we examined the role of a particular type of problem, dilemmas, in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Method. We used a case–control design with 64 consecutive referrals from an Infectious Diseases/Liaison Psychiatry Fatigue clinic and 64 age- and sex-matched controls from a general practice population control group in Leeds. We had two main outcome measures; the odds ratios of the risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome after experiencing a severe life event, severe difficulties or both in the year and 3 months preceding onset; and the proportion of subjects in each group who experienced a dilemma prior to onset.

Results. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were more likely to experience severe events and difficulties in the 3 months (OR=9, 95% CI 3·2 to 25·1) and year (OR=4·3, 95% CI 1·8 to 10·2) prior to onset of their illness than population controls. In the 3 months prior to onset 19 of the 64 patients (30%) experienced a dilemma compared to none of the controls.

Conclusions. Chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with stressful events and difficulties prior to onset. Those events and difficulties characterized as being dilemmas seem to be particularly important.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2000 Cambridge University Press
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Health Sciences (Leeds) > Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Assistant
Date Deposited: 25 May 2006
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 16:11
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291703008274
Status: Published
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0033291703008274
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1226

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