Functioning in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome: increased impairment with co-occurring multiple chemical sensitivity and fibromyalgia.

1: Dyn Med. 2007 May 31;6:6.

Brown MM, Jason LA.

Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Center for Community Research, Chicago, IL, USA.

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), and fibromyalgia (FM) commonly co-occur. Some propose that CFS, MCS, and FM are manifestations of the same illness based on high rates of co-occurrence and overlapping diagnostic criteria. This study seeks to differentiate these diagnoses by comparing individuals with one or more illness on functioning, psychiatric comorbidity, coping style, and in vivo physical measures.

METHODS: Participants included 114 men and women who met criteria for CFS. FM was diagnosed during a physical examination, and MCS was assessed using a questionnaire. Participants were divided into four groups: CFS alone, CFS-MCS, CFS-FM, and CFS-MCS-FM. Self-report measures, a psychiatric interview, and in vivo physical measures were given.

RESULTS: 43.9% met criteria for CFS alone, 23.7% met criteria for CFS-MCS, 15.8% met criteria for CFS-FM, and 16.7% met criteria for CFS-MCS-FM. The CFS-MCS-FM group was more disabled than the CFS alone group on measures of physical functioning, general health, and bodily pain. In vivo measures did not differ, but the CFS-MCS-FM group rated exertion higher than the CFS alone group.

CONCLUSION: Individuals with CFS alone were the highest functioning group across several domains, such as disability, depression, and severity of symptoms. Participants with three diagnoses experienced the greatest amount of disability. While substantial co-occurrence of these illnesses was found, this study provides evidence that having more than one illness exacerbates one’s disability beyond CFS alone.

PMID: 17540028 [PubMed – in process]

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Folllowing Rick Usher's death in December 2008, at his request in September of that year, I had agreed, as his principal contributor and an experienced journalist, to run the FMS Global News service due to his heavy commitments to music and raising research funds through this avenue. Following his sad and sudden death I hope to continue his work as he would have wished.
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