Research Volunteers' Attitudes Toward Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Neurology (ECronicon). 2017;7(4):172-178. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are stigmatizing illnesses characterized by cognitive difficulties, post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, and other symptoms. Patients are often incapacitated and stigmatized as having a psychological disorder. The Chronic Fatigue Attitudes Test (CAT) assesses stigmatizing views toward individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, however, there is little research examining factors that may account for variation in stigmatizing attitudes toward this group. We examined CAT scores among college age research volunteers (N = 90), hypothesizing that exposure to information about ME and CFS as a result of volunteering on a ME and CFS-related research project would be associated with less stigmatizing attitudes compared to volunteers on unrelated projects. Findings indicated that ME and CFS research volunteers expressed less stigmatizing attitudes. Educational efforts aiming to disseminate accurate information about ME and CFS may mitigate stigma and the experience of stigma among individuals with ME and CFS.

Keywords: Attitudes; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; Stigma.