Variability in diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome may result in substantial differences in patterns of symptoms and disability

Leonard A. Jason, Jena Helgerson, Susan R. Torres-Harding, Adam W. Carrico, Renee R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an illness that involves severe, prolonged exhaustion as well as neurologic, immunologic, and endocrine system pathology. Because the pathogenesis of CFS has yet to be determined, case definitions have relied on clinical observation in classifying signs and symptoms for diagnosis. The current investigation examined differences between CFS as defined by Fukuda and colleagues and a set of criteria that has been stipulated for myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Dependent measures included psychiatric comorbidity, symptom frequency, symptom severity, and functional impairment. The ME and Fukuda et al. (1994) CFS criteria were compared with a group having chronic fatigue due to psychiatric reasons. Significant differences occurred primarily with neurologic, neuropsychiatric, fatigue/weakness, and rheumatological symptoms. These findings suggest that it might be inappropriate to synthesize results from studies of this illness that use different definitions to select study populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalEvaluation and the Health Professions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 24 2003



  • Case definitions
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Diagnostic criteria
  • Disability
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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