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A comparison of health status in patients meeting alternative definitions for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis

Samantha C Johnston1*, Ekua W Brenu1, Sharni L Hardcastle1, Teilah K Huth1, Donald R Staines12 and Sonya M Marshall-Gradisnik1

Author Affiliations

1 Griffith Health Institute, School of Medical Sciences, National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases, Griffith University, Parklands, QLD 4222, Australia

2 Gold Coast Public Health Unit, Queensland Health, Robina, QLD, Australia

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2014, 12:64  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-12-64

Published: 30 April 2014



Several diagnostic definitions are available for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) that varies significantly in their symptom criteria. This pilot study was conducted to determine whether simple biological and clinical measures differed between CFS/ME patients meeting the 1994 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria, the International Consensus Criteria (ICC), as well as healthy controls.


A total of 45 CFS/ME patients and 30 healthy controls from the South East Queensland region of Australia provided a blood sample, reported on their current symptoms, as well as aspects of their physical and social health using the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), and the World Health Organisation Disability Adjustment Schedule 2.0 (WHO DAS 2.0). Differences were examined using independent sample t-testing.


Patients fulfilling the ICC definition reported significantly lower scores (pā€‰<ā€‰0.05) for physical functioning, physical role, bodily pain, and social functioning than those that only fulfilled the 1994 CDC definition. ICC patients reported significantly greater (pā€‰<ā€‰0.05) disability across all domains of the WHO DAS 2.0.


These preliminary findings suggest that the ICC identifies a distinct subgroup found within patients complying with the 1994 CDC definition, with more severe impairment to their physical and social functioning.

Chronic fatigue syndrome; Disability; Myalgic encephalomyelitis; Health-related quality of life