Prevalence and treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and co-morbid severe health Anxiety, by Jolene Daniels, Paul Salkovskis, Hannah Parker  in Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Nov 2019


Research abstract:

Background: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME (CFS/ME) is a debilitating condition that affects 0.2–0.4% of the population.

Health focussed anxiety is common across medical conditions, and may be relevant in CFS/ME. This study sought to identify the prevalence and impact of health anxiety (HA) in CFS/ME and evaluate the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for HA in CFS/ME.

Method: Cross sectional questionnaire methods and case-series design were used to achieve study aims.

Results: Analysis indicated that 41.9% of the CFS/ME clinic sample experienced threshold levels of health anxiety, which was associated with elevated symptom severity across several dimensions.  Stepwise multiple regression indicated physical functioning and depression accounted for 23.8% of variance in fatigue; depression, fatigue and HA, accounted for 32.9% of variance in physical functioning. Large effect sizes and clinically significant changes were generated in the treatment study.

Conclusion: HA is common in CFS/ME and likely to exacerbate fatigue and physical functioning. This study identifies HA as an important target for treatment, trial findings should be further replicated on a larger scale.

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