Housebound versus nonhousebound patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic Illn. 2016 Dec;12(4):292-307. doi: 10.1177/1742395316644770. Epub 2016 Apr 28.


Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome who are confined to their homes due to severe symptomatology. The existing literature fails to address differences between this group, and less severe, nonhousebound patient populations.

Methods: Participants completed the DePaul Symptom Questionnaire, a measure of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome symptomology, and the SF-36, a measure of health impact on physical/mental functioning. ANOVAs and, where appropriate, MANCOVAS were used to compare housebound and nonhousebound patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome across areas of functioning, symptomatology, and illness onset characteristics.

Results: Findings indicated that the housebound group represented one quarter of the sample, and were significantly more impaired with regards to physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, social functioning, fatigue, postexertional malaise, sleep, pain, neurocognitive, autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immune functioning compared to individuals who were not housebound.

Discussion: Findings indicated that housebound patients have more impairment on functional and symptom outcomes compared to those who were not housebound. Understanding the differences between housebound and not housebound groups holds implications for physicians and researchers as they develop interventions intended for patients who are most severely affected by this chronic illness.

Keywords: Chronic illness; chronic fatigue syndrome; housebound; myalgic encephalomyelitis; severely ill.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Homebound Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Pain / etiology
  • Physical Exertion
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Social Participation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symptom Assessment*
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Young Adult