Objectives: The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and describe illness characteristics in a community population in Poland.
Design: cross-sectional study.
Participants: Of the cohort of 1400 who self-presented with fatigue only 69 subsequently were confirmed as having CFS/ME using the Fukuda criteria.
Main outcome measures: Participants completed the following screening symptom assessment tools: Chalder Fatigue Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), Composite Autonomic Symptom Score 31 (COMPASS 31), Quality of Life Scale (QOLS). Haemodynamic and autonomic parameters were automatically measured at rest with a Task Force Monitor.
Results: In 1308, from 1400 (93%) individuals who identified themselves as fatigued, recognised chronic conditions were identified, for example, neurological (n=280, 21.5%), neurodegenerative (n=200, 15%), psychiatric (n=654, 50%) and immunologic (n=174, 13.5%) disorders. The remaining 69 participants (mean age 38.3±8.5) met the Fukuda defintion for CFS/ME and had baseline objective assessment. The majority had experienced symptoms for over 2 years with 37% having symptoms for 2-5 years and 21.7% for more than 10 years. The COMPASS 31 indicated that 50% have symptoms consistent with orthostatic intolerance. About 43/69 (62%) had Epworth sleepiness scores ≥10, ie, consistent with excessive daytime sleepiness, 26/69 (38%) had significant anxiety and 22/69 (32%) depression measured by HADS A & D. Quality of life is significantly impaired in those with Fukuda criteria CFS (QLS score 64±11) with significant negative relationships between quality of life and fatigue (p<0.0001), anxiety (p=0.0009), depression (p<0.0001) and autonomic symptoms (p=0.04).
Conclusion: This is the first study to summarise illness characteristics of Polish CFS/ME patients. Our study has confirmed that fatigue is a common and under-recognised symptom affecting the Polish population.
Keywords: chronic fatigue; epidemiology; prevalence; quality of life.
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