Health care resource use by patients before and after a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME): A clinical practice research datalink study, by Simon Collin, Inger Bakken, Irwin Nazareth, Esther Crawley, & Peter D. White in BMC Family Practice. 18 20017
Background: Our aim was to investigate patterns of health care resource use by patients before and after a diagnosis of CFS/ME, as recorded by Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) GP practices in the UK.
Methods: We used a case–control study design in which patients who had a first recorded diagnosis of CFS/ME during the period 01/01/2001 to 31/12/2013 were matched 1:1 with controls by age, sex, and GP practice. We compared rates of GP consultations, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, referrals, and symptoms between the two groups from 15 years (in adults) or 10 years (in children) before diagnosis to 10 years after diagnosis.
Results: Data were available for 6710 adult and 916 child (age <18 years) matched case–control pairs. Rates of GP consultations, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, referrals, and symptoms spiked dramatically in the year when a CFS/ME diagnosis was recorded. GP consultation rates were 50% higher in adult cases compared to controls 11–15 years before diagnosis (rate ratio (RR) 1.49 (95% CI 1.46, 1.52)) and 56% higher 6–10 years after diagnosis (RR 1.56 (1.54, 1.57)).
In children, consultation rates in cases were 45% higher 6–10 years before diagnosis (RR 1.45 (1.40, 1.51)) and 62% higher 6–10 years after diagnosis (RR 1.62 (1.54, 1.70)). For adults and children, rates of tests, prescriptions, referrals, and symptoms were higher in cases compared to controls for up to 10 years before and after diagnosis.
Conclusions: Adults and children with CFS/ME have greater health care needs than the rest of the population for at least ten years before their diagnosis, and these higher levels of health care resource use continue for at least ten years after diagnosis.
- These figures pertain only to people visiting a GP practice who diagnose CFS/ME. It should be noted that there are patients who do not receive a diagnosis of CFS or ME from their GP for a variety of reasons
- Severely affected patients who are unable to visit the surgery and who do not receive home visits are unable to access consultations, tests etc
- GP practices have to agree to send their data to CPRD, so this does not include all GP practices in the UK