Health-related quality of life in Norwegian adolescents living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, by  Wenche Ann Similä, Vidar Halsteinli, Ingrid B Helland, Christer Suvatne, Hanna Elmi, Torstein Baade Rø in Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2020 Jun 5;18(1):170 [doi: 10.1186/s12955-020-01430-z]


Research abstract:

Purpose: The primary aim was to measure health related quality of life (HRQoL) in a Norwegian cohort of adolescents with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME). A secondary aim was to identify factors before diagnosis, at time of diagnosis and after diagnosis that were associated with HRQoL.

Methods: In this cross-sectional population-based study, HRQoL was measured by Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory™ Generic Core scale version 4.0 (PedsQL4.0) in 63 adolescents with CFS/ME. In addition, fatigue was measured by PedsQL Multidimensional Fatigue scale (PedsQL-MFS), depressive symptoms were measured by the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ), and disruption in school activities was measured by The De Paul Pediatric Health Questionnaire (DPHQ-N). Data were also collected from medical records and patient interviews.

Results: Age at diagnosis was 15 (2) years (mean (SD)), and four out of five participants were female. Time from diagnosis to reply was 39 (22) months. Adolescents with CFS/ME reported PedsQL4.0 score 50 (17), and boys reported a better score than girls (64 vs 47, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) for difference (- 27; – 6)).

Factors found with association to HRQoL in adolescents living with CFS/ME

There were positive associations between overall HRQoL and support from a schoolteacher, school attendance or participation in leisure activities. There were negative associations between overall HRQoL and delayed school progression, having been to rehabilitation stay and depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: HRQoL in adolescents diagnosed with CFS/ME was low. The associations between reported HRQoL, healthcare previously provided, support from a schoolteacher, school attendance and participation in leisure activity may provide information of value when developing refined strategies for healthcare among adolescents with CFS/ME. Possible causal relationships must however be explored in future studies.

Research paper conclusion

In this cross-sectional study of adolescents with CFS/ME we found low HRQoL. The study identified new and possibly important factors associated with HRQoL. When exploring factors before, at the time of or after diagnosis associated with HRQoL, we found that school attendance, support from a schoolteacher and participation in leisure activities were associated with higher HRQoL. We also found associations to higher emotional functioning, when occupational therapist, physical therapist and clinical nutritionist were engaged in diagnostic evaluation.

On the other hand, school absence higher than 50% before diagnostic evaluation, delayed school progression or having been to a rehabilitation stay were negatively associated with HRQoL. Early diagnosis, mapping of symptoms severity and HRQoL, maintaining school contact and early action to prevent depressive symptoms might be important to improve HRQoL in these patients.

Limitations to our study design imply that future interventional studies are needed to confirm whether the identified factors can be used to improve HRQoL in adolescents with CFS/ME.

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