Research abstract:

Prevalence and correlates of low mood, poor quality of life and high symptom impact in adolescents attending a tertiary service for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis, by FK Neale, TY Segal, DS Hargreaves in Archives of Disease in Childhood Vol 103, Suppl 1, G13, March 2018

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a condition characterised by persistent fatigue that reduces activity and affects everyday life. It is associated with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and a reduction in quality of life.

This project describes the demographic of adolescents with CFS/ME being treated at a specialist service and their mood, quality of life and symptom impact. It assesses whether sex, age, Body Mass Index, household income and illness duration are associated with low mood, poor quality of life and greater symptom impact. It investigates the similarity
between the adolescents’ and their parents’ views of the impact of CFS/ME.

69 adolescents, (10.4-18.0 years), were assessed at their initial clinic appointment using a three-part questionnaire. Their parents received one part of this questionnaire separately. The questionnaire was comprised of three survey instruments which had been previously validated for use in adolescents. Additional data about the adolescents was collected from
their clinic assessment form.

69.6% of the adolescents were female, 13.0% were obese or very obese and mean illness duration was 25.3 months. 36.2% of the adolescents came from a household within the 10% most affluent in the country. Moderate, severe or extreme anxiety or depression symptoms were reported by 39.1%, severe levels of worry by 43.5% and high or very high symptom impact by 69.1%. Long illness duration was significantly associated with low mood (p=0.006) but no other associations were significant. There was minimal  agreement between the adolescents’ and parents’ answers (mean kappa score=0.373) with the parents reporting CFS/ME to cause greater difficulties.

Adolescents from high-income backgrounds are over-represented amongst adolescents attending this specialist clinic. This may represent higher prevalence or greater access to specialist services in high-income families. More than a third of adolescents attending this clinic reported significantly reduced quality of life and/or low or anxious mood symptoms; more than two thirds reported that the condition has a major impact on their daily life. Parents report CFS/ME to cause greater difficulties than their children do.

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